Liberals and Conservatives Rely on Different Sets of Moral Foundations

Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.08). 06/2009; 96(5):1029-46. DOI: 10.1037/a0015141
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT How and why do moral judgments vary across the political spectrum? To test moral foundations theory (J. Haidt & J. Graham, 2007; J. Haidt & C. Joseph, 2004), the authors developed several ways to measure people's use of 5 sets of moral intuitions: Harm/care, Fairness/reciprocity, Ingroup/loyalty, Authority/respect, and Purity/sanctity. Across 4 studies using multiple methods, liberals consistently showed greater endorsement and use of the Harm/care and Fairness/reciprocity foundations compared to the other 3 foundations, whereas conservatives endorsed and used the 5 foundations more equally. This difference was observed in abstract assessments of the moral relevance of foundation-related concerns such as violence or loyalty (Study 1), moral judgments of statements and scenarios (Study 2), "sacredness" reactions to taboo trade-offs (Study 3), and use of foundation-related words in the moral texts of religious sermons (Study 4). These findings help to illuminate the nature and intractability of moral disagreements in the American "culture war."

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Available from: Brian Nosek, Aug 22, 2015
    • "The five moral foundations were measured using the 30 item Moral Foundations Questionnaire (MFQ), available at in different languages and used in several previous studies (Graham et al., 2011, 2009). The scale measures moral relevance and moral judgment, with 15 items each. "
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    • "Yet, they are culturally variant in the value, activation and practicing of each morality. That is, while many cultures seem to celebrate these moral foundations, they do not necessarily attend to each one equally, at the same time, for the same reasons and with the same levels of intensity (Haidt, 2012; Graham, Haidt, and Nosek, 2009). Consistent with cultural sociology's strong program, moral foundations theory resonates with Durkheim's emphasis on social integration and regulation as fundamental aspects of human beings living together (Haidt and Graham, 2007). "
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