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60 Minutes/Vanity Fair: Bad Habits

Women want to hide their bodies, men want to hide their credit card statements -- Americans weigh in on the topic of bad habits

Welcome to the 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Poll for October 2015. The subject of this month's poll is Bad Habits. If the word habit can be defined as a recurring often unconscious pattern of behavior acquired through frequent repetition, then what constitutes a bad habit?

Americans spend enormous amounts of time and money trying to break their bad habits. Some bad habits such as biting your nails may be annoying but they aren't exactly harmful. However, there are many that can be very harmful. Many Americans are constantly battling overeating or too much drinking, smoking or shopping to name a few. Some newer bad habits include obsessive behaviors that can involve the use of cell phones, video games and social media.

A lot of the less harmful bad habits can be broken using will power and discipline but when they become addictions, either physical or psychological, professional help may be required. Which bad habit irritates you the most? We look forward to your answer to this and many other questions. And now the results...

Passing Judgment

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Seven out of 10 Americans say that in general, they tend to judge themselves more than they judge others. Sixteen percent said they tend to judge others more and 12 percent said neither. In his address to the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis asked members to try to follow The Golden Rule more often. In keeping with that advice, some Americans might refer to the Gospel of Luke for inspiration, "judge not and ye shall not be judged, condemn not and ye shall not be condemned, forgive and ye shall be forgiven."

Most Annoying

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When asked which of these bad habits irritated them the most, 32 percent said smoking made them fume, 23 percent swore that using crude language irritated them the most, 20 percent said please don't talk and chew food at the same time, eight percent would like to smack the gum smackers, four percent said that chewing your nails bites and three percent would crack down on the knuckle crackers.

Secret's Safe

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When no one else is looking, 38 percent said they are most likely to eat something fattening, 14 percent watch a trashy TV show, 13 percent like looking at someone from head to toe, 10 percent said they sneak a cigarette, seven percent will take a drink, four percent text an ex and 13 percent said none of the above. None of these are federal offenses and many Americans might like to secretly indulge in some behavior that may not be optimal for their health. As is the case in most things that are not that good for us, do as the ancient Romans suggested, do everything in moderation.

Wishful Thinking

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Now this really qualifies as this month's fantasy question. If they knew there would be no negative consequences, 44 percent of Americans would indulge more in overeating, 16 percent would drink more, 10 percent would smoke more, eight percent would sleep around, four percent would lie more, and 16 percent (the most disciplined ones) said none of the above, thanks. The most basic human needs, eating and drinking, are still the ones that a majority of Americans gravitate to. For thousands of years, eating and drinking have been central to the human condition and pleasure. It appears they still are.

What do you think?

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Four out of 10 Americans view people that have no bad habits as role models. Twenty-four percent said they were too good to be true and probably hiding something, 14 percent said they must be from another planet, seven percent said they were impossible to be around and six percent said they must be deeply unhappy.

Quitting for good

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Four out of 10 Americans said that a near-death experience would be the most likely thing to get them to break a bad habit. Three out of 10 said an ultimatum from a loved one would probably do the trick, nine percent said several years of therapy and another nine percent said finding another bad habit to replace it with. It is often difficult to break bad habits but it appears the trauma of a near-death experience or an intervention by a loved one would provide enough shock therapy to help many people to overcome a weakness.

Privacy please

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Twenty-two percent said they would most want to hide their body from other people and another 22 percent would hide their credit card statement, next in order were political opinions 15 percent, the inside of their home 10 percent, emails and texts nine percent, websites visited five percent, their spouse two percent and 14 percent would not hide anything. Most people have something to hide. Women are three times more inclined to want to hide their body than men and men are more prone to want to hide their financial and Internet activities than women are.

Can't sleep?

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Half of Americans would find it obscene if their spouse spent the last three hours of every night looking at pornography. Seventeen percent would say "really" if their spouse watched reality television every night, 13 percent said they would not be game to have them playing at video three hours a night and 11 percent would not "like" to face their spouse posting on social media every night.

Punctuality

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Almost eight out of 10 Americans say that their friends and colleagues view them as being always on time and 19 percent admitted they would be viewed as habitually late. Being an "on time" person is a trait that should be both admired and desired. It shows that you respect the other people and the value of their time. With today's increased complexities of life such as traffic, multitasking and hectic schedules, it is more difficult than ever to show up at the appointed hour, however a whopping 87 percent of people over the age of 55 say they still manage to always make it on time.

Celebrity Rehab

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When Americans hear that a celebrity has entered rehab, 62 percent react by saying "good for them" while 32 percent think "it won't be the last time." Most Americans like to give people the benefit of the doubt but others can sometimes be cynical as to the motivations and actions of celebrities and politicians.

Happy Hour

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"It's five o'clock somewhere" is the age old rationale that it's all right to have a drink whenever the spirits move you. Twenty-three percent of Americans say they subscribe to that rule, 21 percent say they do it only when on vacation, 29 percent said they never do it and 25 percent were not familiar with the five o'clock rule. Drinking alcohol has always divided Americans, with some seeing it as enjoyable and a sacred right and others viewing it as a destructive vice. Drinking is a big part of America's culture and economy. Not surprisingly, younger Americans under 35 tend be more open-minded as to when Happy Hour begins.


This poll was conducted by telephone from August 7-11, 2015 among a random sample of 1,019 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Media, PA. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus 3 percentage points. The error for other subgroups may be higher. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Poll. Read more about this poll.