SCIENCE
09/30/2014 03:48 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

7 Percent Of Americans Don't Lock Their Doors. Here's Who They Are

AP

Presidential politics took a scary turn recently when a man jumped the White House fence and made it deep inside the mansion through unlocked doors just minutes after President Obama had left.

Leaving doors unlocked at the White House seems like a bad policy -- and a new poll suggests that it's out of step with what most Americans do in their own homes. A new HuffPost/YouGov poll indicates that only 7 percent of us leave our doors open when we venture out.

Why do so many of us lock our doors?

“If most people do it, it’s not their personalities that explain why it’s done,” said Dr. Baruch Fischhoff, a professor of decision science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “This is a cultural norm. It’s very low cost, and everyone grew up doing it so they just continue doing it.”

Though non-lockers are rare across all demographic groups, some Americans are more likely than others to go lock-free. For example, 12 percent of Americans age 65 and over, but only 4 percent of those under 30, generally don't lock their doors when they go out, with other age groups falling in between. And 14 percent of those who live in rural areas -- but only 5 percent of city dwellers, 6 percent of suburbanites and 7 percent of those who live in towns -- say they don't lock up when they leave the house.

Whites were more likely than African-Americans to say they don't lock their doors, 8 percent to 2 percent, while Republicans (12 percent) were more likely to be non-lockers than Democrats or independents (both at 6 percent).

More Americans -- 23 percent -- say they seldom lock the doors when they're home. Once again, people living in rural areas, older Americans, whites, and Republicans were the most likely to say they generally don't lock their doors.

Men were also more likely than women to say they don't lock their doors when they're at home, 28 percent to 18 percent. A third of midwesterners, but only a fifth of those from any other region, said they don't lock up when they're at home.

Some of those groups were also less likely to report that their home had ever been broken into. Eight percent of rural-dwellers, but 17 percent of city-dwellers, said their home has been broken into, while 20 percent of blacks and only 13 percent of whites said the same. However, there was little difference by gender, age, party or region in reports of break-ins.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Sept. 23-25 among 1,000 U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here.

HuffPost

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