The moral domain is broader than the empathy and justice concerns assessed by existing measures of moral competence, and it is not just a subset of the values assessed by value inventories. To fill the need for reliable and theoretically grounded measurement of the full range of moral concerns, we developed the Moral Foundations Questionnaire on the basis of a theoretical model of 5 universally available sets of moral intuitions: Harm/Care, Fairness/Reciprocity, Ingroup/Loyalty, Authority/Respect, and Purity/Sanctity. We present evidence for the (...) internal and external validity of the scale and the model, and in doing so we present new findings about morality: Comparative model fitting of confirmatory factor analyses provides empirical justification for a 5-factor structure of moral concerns; convergent/discriminant validity evidence suggests that moral concerns predict personality features and social group attitudes not previously considered morally relevant; and we establish pragmatic validity of the measure in providing new knowledge and research opportunities concerning demographic and cultural differences in moral intuitions. These analyses provide evidence for the usefulness of Moral Foundations Theory in simultaneously increasing the scope and sharpening the resolution of psychological views of morality. (shrink)
Commentators have noted that the issue stands taken by each side of the American “culture war” lack conceptual consistency and can even seem contradictory. We sought to understand the psychological underpinnings of culture war attitudes using Moral Foundations Theory. In two studies involving 24,739 participants and 20 such issues, we found that endorsement of five moral foundations predicted judgments about these issues over and above ideology, age, gender, religious attendance, and interest in politics. Our results suggest that dispositional tendencies, particularly (...) a person’s moral intuitions, may underlie, motivate, and unite ideological positions across a variety of issues and offer new insights into the multiple “moral threads” connecting disparate political positions. (shrink)
Libertarians are an increasingly prominent ideological group in U.S. politics, yet they have been largely unstudied. Across 16 measures in a large web-based sample that included 11,994 self-identified libertarians, we sought to understand the moral and psychological characteristics of self-described libertarians. Based on an intuitionist view of moral judgment, we focused on the underlying affective and cognitive dispositions that accompany this unique worldview. Compared to self-identified liberals and conservatives, libertarians showed 1) stronger endorsement of individual liberty as their foremost guiding (...) principle, and weaker endorsement of all other moral principles; 2) a relatively cerebral as opposed to emotional cognitive style; and 3) lower interdependence and social relatedness. As predicted by intuitionist theories concerning the origins of moral reasoning, libertarian values showed convergent relationships with libertarian emotional dispositions and social preferences. Our findings add to a growing recognition of the role of personality differences in the organization of political attitudes. (shrink)
Several scholars have recognized the limitations of theories of moral reasoning in explaining moral behavior. They have argued that moral behavior may also be influenced by moral identity, or how central morality is to one’s sense of self. This idea has been supported by findings that people who exemplify moral behavior tend to place more importance on moral traits when defining their self-concepts (Colby & Damon, 1995). This paper takes the next step of examining individual variation in a construct highly (...) associated with immoral behavior — psychopathy. In Study 1, we test the hypothesis that individuals with a greater degree of psychopathic traits have a weaker moral identity. Within a large online sample, we found that individuals who scored higher on a measure of psychopathic traits were less likely to base their self-concepts on moral traits. In Study 2, we test whether this reduced sense of moral identity can be attributed to differences in moral judgment, which is another factor that could influence immoral behavior. Our results indicated that the reduced sense of moral identity among more psychopathic individuals was independent of variation in moral judgment. These results suggest that individuals with psychopathic traits may display immoral behavior partially because they do not construe their personal identities in moral terms. (shrink)
This account of puritanical morality is useful and innovative, but makes two errors. First, it mischaracterizes the purity foundation as being unrelated to cooperation. Second, it makes the leap from cooperation (broadly construed) to a monist account of moral cognition (as harm or fairness). We show how this leap is both conceptually incoherent and inconsistent with empirical evidence about self-control moralization.
Mutualism provides a compelling account of the fairness intuitions on display in economic games. However, it is not yet clear how well the approach holds up as an explanation of all human morality. The theory needs to be tested outside the methodological neighborhood it was born in; such testing has the potential to greatly improve our understanding of morality in general.
This commentary extends the target article's useful concepts to consider collective instances of representational exchange. When groups collectively rationalize their actions, entire networks of beliefs and desires can be created and maintained in the form of shared moral narratives and system-justifying ideologies. These collective rationalization cases illustrate how adaptive advantages can come at the expense of the truth.
Most academic efforts to understand morality and ideology come from theorists who limit the domain of morality to issues related to harm and fairness. For such theorists, conservative beliefs are puzzles requiring non-moral explanations. In contrast, we present moral foundations theory, which broadens the moral domain to match the anthropological literature on morality. We extend the theory by integrating it with a review of the sociological constructs of community, authority, and sacredness, as formulated by Emile Durkheim and others. We present (...) data supporting the theory, which also shows that liberals misunderstand the explicit moral concerns of conservatives more than conservatives misunderstand liberals. We suggest that what liberals see as a non-moral motivation for system justification may be better described as a moral motivation to protect society, groups, and the structures and constraints that are often (though not always) beneficial for individuals. Finally, we outline the possible benefits of a moral foundations perspective for System Justification Theory, including better understandings of 1) why the system-justifying motive is palliative despite some harmful effects, 2) possible evolutionary origins of the motive, and 3) the values and worldviews of conservatives in general. (shrink)
The target article's climato-economic theory will benefit by allowing for bidirectional effects and the heterogeneity of types of freedom, in order to more fully capture the coevolution of societal wealth and freedom. We also suggest alternative methods of testing climato-economic theory, such as longitudinal analyses of these countries' histories and micro-level experiments of each of the theory's hypotheses.