NEF/Roper Poll 2006
Updating American Attitudes
on Skinny-dipping and Nude Sunbathing

Click here to view the NEF/Roper Poll 2006 results and discussion as a PDF file.

     A new poll commissioned by the Naturist Education Foundation (NEF) tests the responses of Americans to questions about nudity. The independent survey, which was conducted for NEF by the prestigious polling firm of Roper Public Affairs, updates previous surveys and adds a new question.

     In 1983, The Naturist Society (TNS) commissioned an independent Gallup Poll of the attitudes of Americans concerning skinny-dipping and nude sunbathing. The encouraging results were used for years as evidence of the acceptance of naturist activities in the U.S.

     NEF, the nonprofit educational and informational adjunct to The Naturist Society, updated the poll in 2000 when it commissioned Roper Starch to ask the same three questions in a nationwide survey. Since 2005, Roper has been a unit of GfK NOP, LLC, an international research business.

     The 2006 NEF/Roper Poll indicates continued high levels of acceptance for nude sunbathing, with close to three-quarters of the survey sample expressing support for hassle-free nude sunbathing at a beach that is accepted for that purpose.

     Personal participation in skinny-dipping has remained consistent at a quarter of the population. Only adults were surveyed, and the present adult population of the U.S. is approximately 220 million. The projected number of American adults who have personally taken part in skinny-dipping or nude sunbathing is an astounding 55 million!

     Of course, naturism is a family-friendly activity that's often a way of life. Although the survey was limited to adults, naturist activities are not. Naturist parents frequently include their children in wholesome and traditional activities like skinny-dipping that simply don't require the participants to be clothed.

     Perhaps the poll's most encouraging response was to the question that asked about designating public land for nude use. A clear majority of those surveyed, 54 percent, agreed that governments should specifically meet the needs of those who enjoy nude sunbathing by setting aside public land for that purpose.

     In addition to the questions that had appeared as part of the polls in 1983 and 2000, the Naturist Education Foundation posed a new public opinion question in 2006. The question asked whether people should be able to be nude in their own backyards, even if they might be visible to others.

     The purpose of this question was simply to establish a baseline, a starting place for measuring progress. The result was surprising. Twenty-four percent of those surveyed believe that people should be able to be nude in their backyards without interference, even if they may be visible to others.

     The 2006 NEF/Roper Poll is just one of the NEF projects made possible by the generous voluntary support of the naturist community. For more information on the 2006 NEF/Roper Poll and other NEF projects, visit the Web site of the Naturist Education Foundation:

www.naturisteducation.org

 

QUESTION number 1

Do you believe that people who enjoy nude sunbathing should be able to do so without interference from local officials as long as they do so at a beach that is accepted for that purpose?

2006

YES 74%

No   24%
Refused to answer  2%

ROPER POLL OF 1,009 ADULTS
SEPTEMBER, 2006
MARGIN OF ERROR IS
+/-3 PERCENTAGE POINTS

Sustained Support for Nude Sunbathing
       Few American adults object to nude sunbathing that takes place on beaches in designated areas. The conditional acceptance of nude sunbathing measured in 2006 verifies the results from 1983 and 2000, with close to three-quarters of American adults agreeing that it should be allowed without interference from officials.

       The slight dropoff from the level of the 2000 NEF/Roper Poll could be real, or it could be attributed to cumulative sampling error. In any case, those interpreting the results must not lose sight of the fact that the sustained overwhelming level of support comes at a time in which American society is far more divided on other issues.

  • ADDITIONAL DETAIL: With an 84% approval, those on the West Coast are most likely to support nude sunbathing. Even in the South, the region of least support, approval was still high; 69% there answered yes. Note 1.
     

QUESTION number 2

Local and state governments now set aside public land for special types of recreation such as snowmobiling, surfing and hunting. Do you think special and secluded areas should be set aside for people who enjoy nude sunbathing?

2006

YES 54%

No   43%
Refused to answer  3%

ROPER POLL OF 1,009 ADULTS
SEPTEMBER, 2006
MARGIN OF ERROR IS
+/-3 PERCENTAGE POINTS

A Clear Majority Now Favors Designation
of Clothing-Optional Areas
       The 2006 NEF/Roper Poll indicates that the idea of setting aside areas for nude sunbathing now enjoys clear majority support among Americans. Public approval for the idea has clearly been building over the years, but governmental agencies have been slow to respond to the emerging demand. Agencies and public land managers must reevaluate their policies toward the designation of public land for people who enjoy nude sunbathing.

Notable successes already exist where agencies have responded positively to this increasing demand. Among its positive efforts to manage for nude recreation, the National Park Service counts recognized clothing-optional areas at the Gateway National Recreation Area in New Jersey and at Canaveral National Seashore in Florida. At the state level, Oregon has designated a portion of Rooster Rock State Parks as clothing-optional, and Collins Beach on Sauvie Island has official clothing-optional signage supplied by the State Department of Fish & Wildlife. Miami-Dade County in Florida has shown vision and has reaped economic rewards by setting aside a portion of Haulover Beach for clothing-optional use.

  • ADDITIONAL DETAIL: Those who are under 35 are the most accepting group when it comes to designating areas for nude sunbathing. Sixty-five percent of that cohort favor designation.  Note 1.
     

QUESTION number 3

Have you, personally, ever gone "skinny dipping" or nude sunbathing in a mixed group of men and women at a beach, at a pool, or somewhere else?

2006

YES 25%

No   73%
Refused to answer  2%

ROPER POLL OF 1,009 ADULTS
SEPTEMBER, 2006
MARGIN OF ERROR IS
+/-3 PERCENTAGE POINTS

More than 55 Million Skinny-dippers?
       The level of those who say they have gone skinny-dipping or nude sunbathing remains at one of every four American adults. That's over 55 million.

  • ADDITIONAL DETAIL: Nearly a third (32%) of the under-35 crowd have gone skinny-dipping or nude sunbathing. Note 1.
     

It's a Start!
Surprising Support
for a New Question
       For 2006, NEF added a new question to determine present sentiment and establish an additional baseline by which progress can be measured in coming years. The results exceeded expectations!

Nearly a quarter of Americans (more than 50 million people) support backyard nudity, without interference, even if those who are nude may be visible to others.

  • ADDITIONAL DETAIL: In the West, more than a third (36%) answered yes. Note 1.
     

A NEW QUESTION

Do you believe people should be able to be nude in their backyard without interference, even if they may be visible to others?

2006

YES 24%

No   74%
Refused to answer  2%

ROPER POLL OF 1,009 ADULTS
SEPTEMBER, 2006
MARGIN OF ERROR IS
+/-3 PERCENTAGE POINTS

about NEF ...

The Naturist Education Foundation (NEF) is the educational and informational adjunct to The Naturist Society, a membership society serving North America. NEF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization of volunteers.

Naturist Education Foundation
P.O. Box 132
OSHKOSH, WI 54903

TEL (512) 282-6621
FAX (512) 282-2503
EMAIL  nef@naturisteducation.org
 

NOTES

   1. Differences marked between groups are significant at the 95% confidence level.

   2. Methodology Statement from Roper Public Affairs / GfK NOP

This study was conducted via OmniTel, a weekly national omnibus survey of GfK NOP.
Interviews were conducted among 1,009 people ages 18+ from September 8th-10th, 2006. All interviews are conducted by telephone from the four GfK NOP World sites. Together, the four sites have a full-time capacity of 400 lines, and utilize an interviewing procedure known as CATI - Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing. Interviewers have been professionally trained and are continuously monitored and supervised.
Each OmniTel study is based on a random digit dialing (RDD) probability sample of all telephone households in the continental United States. The RDD sampling system is totally computer based and provides an equal probability of selection for each and every telephone household. Thus, the sample represents telephone households with both listed and unlisted phones in their proper proportions. All sample numbers selected by this procedure are subject to an original and at least four follow-up attempts to complete an interview.

The margin of error for the entire sample is +/- three percentage points. The margin of error at the subgroup level is higher.

Please note that for questions that do not include a "don't know" answer choice, percentages may not add up to 100%.

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