Another Look at Moral Foundations Theory: Do Authoritarianism and Social Dominance Orientation Explain Liberal-Conservative Differences in “Moral” Intuitions?
- 2.6k Downloads
Moral foundations theorists propose that the moral domain should include not only “liberal” ethics of justice and care but also ostensibly “conservative” concerns about the virtues of ingroup loyalty, obedience to authority, and enforcement of purity standards. This proposal clashes with decades of research in political psychology connecting the latter set of characteristics to “the authoritarian personality.” We demonstrate that liberal-conservative differences in moral intuitions are statistically mediated by authoritarianism and social dominance orientation, so that conservatives’ greater valuation of ingroup, authority, and purity concerns is attributable to higher levels of authoritarianism, whereas liberals’ greater valuation of fairness and harm avoidance is attributable to lower levels of social dominance. We also find that ingroup, authority, and purity concerns are positively associated with intergroup hostility and support for discrimination, whereas concerns about fairness and harm avoidance are negatively associated with these variables. These findings might lead some to question the wisdom and appropriateness of efforts to “broaden” scientific conceptions of morality in such a way that preferences based on authoritarianism and social dominance are treated as moral—rather than amoral or even immoral—and suggest that the explicit goal of incorporating conservative ideology into the study of moral psychology (in order to increase ideological diversity) may lead researchers astray.
KeywordsPolitical orientation Ideology Authoritarianism Social dominance Morality
- Adorno, T. W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D. J., & Sanford, R. N. (1950). The authoritarian personality. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
- Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books.Google Scholar
- Altemeyer, B. (1996). The authoritarian specter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Altemeyer, B. (1998). The other “authoritarian personality”. In M. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 30, pp. 47–92). San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Altemeyer, B. (2006). The authoritarians. Available online from http://members.shaw.ca/jeanaltemeyer/drbob/TheAuthoritarians.pdf.
- Duarte, J. L., Crawford, J. T., Stern, C., Haidt, J., Jussim, L., & Tetlock, P. E. (2014). Political diversity will improve social psychological science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1–54.Google Scholar
- Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice: Psychological theory and women’s development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Haidt, J. (2008). What makes people vote Republican? Retrieved September 09, 2008, from http://edge.org/conversation/what-makes-vote-republican.
- Haidt, J. (2012). The righteous mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
- Haidt, J., & Bjorklund, F. (2008). Social intuitionists reason, in conversation. In W. Sinnott-Armstrong (Ed.), Moral psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 241–254). Cambridge, MA: MIT.Google Scholar
- Haidt, J., & Graham, J. (2009). Planet of the Durkheimians, where community, authority, and sacredness are foundations of morality. In J. T. Jost, A. C. Kay, & H. Thorisdottir (Eds.), Social and psychological bases of ideology and system justification (pp. 371–401). New York: Oxford.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hunter, J. D. (1991). Culture wars: The struggle to define America. New York: Basic.Google Scholar
- Jacobsin, D. (2008). Does social intuitionism flatter morality or challenge it? In W. Sinnott-Armstrong (Ed.), Moral psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 219–232). Cambridge, MA: MIT.Google Scholar
- Jones, J.M. (2010). Americans’ opposition to gay marriage eases slightly. Retrieved May 25, 2010 from http://www.gallup.com/poll/128291/Americans-Opposition-Gay-Marriage-Eases-Slightly.aspx.
- Jost, J. T. (2009). Left & right, right & wrong: A system justification analysis of ideology and morality. Talk Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology, Tampa, FL.Google Scholar
- Jost, J. T., West, T. V., & Gosling, S. D. (2009). Personality and ideology as determinants of candidate preferences and “Obama conversion” in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. The Dubois Review: Social Science on Race, 6, 103–124.Google Scholar
- Kohlberg, L. (1969). Stage and sequence: The cognitive-developmental approach to socialization. In D. A. Goslin (Ed.), Handbook of socialization theory and research (pp. 347–480). Chicago: Rand McNally.Google Scholar
- McFarland, S. (2010). Authoritarianism, social dominance, and other roots of generalized prejudice. Political Psychology, 31, 425–449.Google Scholar
- Milgram, S. (1974). Obedience to authority: An experimental view. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
- Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2010). Mplus user's guide. Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
- Nagel, T. (2012). The taste for being moral. [Book review of The righteous mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion by J. Haidt and Dignity: Its history and meaning by M. Rosen]. New York Review of Books, December 6 issue, pp. 40–42.Google Scholar
- Rummel, R. J. (1997). Death by government. Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
- Russell, B. (1938). Power: A new social analysis. London: George Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
- Saad, L. (2010). Americans’ acceptance of gay relations crosses 50% threshold. Retrieved 25 May, 2010 from http://www.gallup.com/poll/135764/Americans-Acceptance-Gay-Relations-Crosses-Threshold.aspx.
- Shermer, M. (2011). The believing brain: From ghosts and gods to politics and conspiracies—How we construct beliefs and reinforce them as truths. New York: Times/Holt.Google Scholar
- Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2007). Experimental designs using ANOVA. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
- Turiel, E. (2006). The development of morality. In N. Eisenberg, W. Damon, & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology (Vol. 3, pp. 789–857). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Van Leeuwen, F., & Park, J. H. (2009). Perceptions of social dangers, moral foundations, and political orientation. Personality and Individual Differences, 47(3), 169–173.Google Scholar