Theory and Society

, Volume 43, Issue 3–4, pp 311–332

Tools from moral psychology for measuring personal moral culture


DOI: 10.1007/s11186-014-9221-8

Cite this article as:
Vaisey, S. & Miles, A. Theor Soc (2014) 43: 311. doi:10.1007/s11186-014-9221-8


Moral culture can mean many things, but two major elements are a concern with moral goods and moral prohibitions. Moral psychologists have developed instruments for assessing both of these and such measures can be directly imported by sociologists. Work by Schwartz and his colleagues on values offers a well-established way of measuring moral goods, while researchers using Haidt’s Moral Foundations Theory have developed validated measures of moral prohibitions. Both values and moral foundations are distributed across the social landscape in systematic, sociologically interesting ways. Although typically measured using questionnaires, we show that values and moral foundations also can be used to analyze interview, archival, or “big data.” Combining psychological and sociological tools and frameworks promises to clarify relations among existing sociological treatments of moral culture and to connect such treatments to a thriving conversation in moral psychology.


Culture Measurement Moral psychology Morality Values 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sociology DepartmentDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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