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Liberals Incline Towards Moral Intuitions

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Discuss about the Liberals Incline Towards Moral Intuitions.



Liberals incline more towards moral intuitions such as Harm/care and Fairness/reciprocity in their decision making

Conservatives rely more on a balanced nature of all five moral intuitions, in this case; all the foundations are rated equally relevant. 


A total of 27 male and one hundred and thirteen female aged 20.230 and SD= 3.810 from Groningen University took part in the research. Data obtained from 25 additional participants were nullified due to different reasons. Taking into consideration scoring instructions from the questionare on moral Foundation's, the data from 21 of the participants who showed highly unusual responses were excluded. It is important also to state that the inclusion of these participants did not in any way affect the correlation of the measured variables and the moral foundation scores. Two participants, with extreme responses were excluded following the scoring instructions in IAT. Also, one of the participants did not accurately abide by the instructions and another data obtained from one other participant was lost as a result of a computer error. Dutch (n=15) was language for instruction used by majority of the participants. The sessions, technically, were concluded in different partitions, and each material being encrypted using Dutch language in computers.



The initial step in this stage was to complete the 41- item moral foundation questionnaire to test for underlying ideological preferences. The questionnaire had 40 items that measured two significant aspects of moral attitudes. 20 items measured moral relevance and hence tested for the extent to which various considerations for the participants were relevant when deciding on whether something is wrong or right. The researchers recorded the responses on a six-point scale that were labeled “not all relevant or extremely relevant”. The other 20 items measured moral judgment, in this case, participants answered to which extent they agreed with statements like, “Is chastity as a virtue integral and valued?’’. Responses were manifested on a scale based on 6-points which were also tagged “strongly agree or strongly disagree”. A combination of the relevance together with judgment items was used to compute scores for the moral intuitions like harm/care, fairness/reciprocity and authority/respect, in group/loyalty and purity/sanctity foundations. For the purpose of statistical efficiency, scores for binding foundations and individual foundations were computed and employed in other analyses within the study. Participants then filled in a single item precise measure in regards to political affiliation, this was based on a 7 point scale.

A measure of affiliation politically was completed by the subjects, the measure entailed implicit connotation test that examined cognitive associations between conservative, liberal negative and positive concepts on the opposite side. Subsequently, this is the procedure that was used to categories liberals and conservatives. Technically, positive scores were linked to a stronger association between conservatives as well as positive concepts.

In the end of this procedure, the “belief in a dangerous world” scale that comprised of twelve test items that measured personality variances perception was completed by the subjects. The seven-point scale was used to stipulate the responses.   


A moral foundation perspective

From the first test, participants individualizing foundation scores was higher as compared to the scores of binding foundation, (M=3.590, SD=0.450 and M=2.620, SD= 0.500, t{139.0}=20.700,p<0.0010). This is technically, a representation of the general liberal alignment of the used sample. Just as reflected in the arguments above, it is noticeable that conservatives equally attribute importance to all five moral foundations, unlike liberals who attach most important to individual foundations. To attempt and analyze this perception, the researchers computed various scores whereby the obtained mean from binding foundations, were subtracted from the individualizing foundations (Progar, 2013). The difference in the two scores was used in later analyses in the course of the research.


Political affiliation                                                                                                                  

The value of mean of explicit measure in this case in terms of politics stood at 3.380 (SD=1.280). Subsequently, this result was less than the scale-midpoint of 4.0 t [139.0] =-5.760, p< 0.0010. On the other hand, the IAT data showed a mean propensity that associates positivity with liberalism whereas conservatism with non-positivity was associated with conservatism. M=-0.980, t {138.0] =-21.250, p< 0.0010. There also exists a positive correlation between explicit and implicit measure (r=0.220, p=0.0110). The association became decreased by a one subject who was strictly conservative measured implicitly. He was also very liberal on the side of implicit measurement (Davies, Sibley & Liu, 2014). Eliminating this score augmented the correlation between implicit and explicit to twenty-eight. However, it only insignificantly altered fundamental results in other measures (Haidt & Graham, 2007). For comparison, it was conveyed that a high correlation between explicit and implicit political affiliation exists (r=0.56).

Political orientation and Moral foundations  

From the results, a high binding foundation score predicted a high explicitly measured and implicitly measured conservatism. On the other hand, greater scores on individualizing foundation considered higher were associated with lesser explicit conservatism measure (r=0.260, p= 0.0020). The outcome also pointed out that scores on moral foundations differences showed low explicit measures and implicit measures of conservatism (Haidt, 2012). The results hence replicate the previous findings in assessment one.

Perception of social dangers and test of mediation

The general perception from the results is that the perception of social dangers may serve as predecessor psychologically to stress positioned on the moral foundations that bind. Subsequently, this was in alignment with the expected outcomes. BDW, however, the association showed negative correlation with the difference in moral foundation scores (Haidt, 2008). Simply put, people perceiving increased social hazards tend to attribute bigger value to binding-foundations as compared to individualizing-foundations.



One primary study objectives aimed at replicating as well as to building on the recent research findings that create the association amid moral intuitions together with political attitudes. Results aligned to previous research findings that indicated that political conservatives alongside liberals vary regarding the significance each is placing on the diverse moral foundations sets (Graham, Haidt & Nosek, 2009). Greater value was placed by liberals on individualizing foundations like harm/care and fairness/reciprocity. On the other hand, conservatives place more weight on binding foundations like in-cohort/ loyalty, purity/sanctity, and power respect. Technically, by using different measures than the ones that had been previously used, like the use of a Dutch sample example rather than an Australian based example, the result indicated that their exist a strong association amid moral foundations alongside political alignment (Nilsson, & Erlandsson, 2015). Divergent cultural sample also enabled the results to be broad and varied across a large spectrum. Also, one other objective was to comprehensively avail conceptual incorporation through connecting perception of social-dangers, moral foundations and political orientation. The outcome of the research remained similar with the hypotheses previously discussed that illustrates the propensity to incline more towards exact moral foundations (Graham et al, 2011). This in return predicts political affiliation. Simply put, the pattern used in analyzing moral attitudes partially mediates the association between the perceptions of social-dangers alongside the political alignment (Weber & Federico, 2013). The findings in this case compliments as well as elaborates previous research on the antecedents psychologically involved in political affiliation. Also, it is important to point out which one, in particular, comes first, and is its political identity, moral concerns or any other third variable (Federico et al, 2013). The research comprehensively answered this technical question. However, the results are preliminary, and hence there is the need for further research. One of the ways through which the challenges can be countered is by testing hypotheses with several other measures of variables attached to both anxiety and fear. Consequently, the current result indicates that upcoming study on the topic may benefit potentially from building upon notions on both the direct together with mediated impacts simultaneously. A relevant instance includes, instead of exclusively focusing on measuring anxiety alongside fear variables, future studies might theoretically as well as empirically manipulate the situational thoughts and hence access the effect on political orientation and moral intuitions (Milojev et al 2014). Also, the researchers may attempt to influence the level of consideration or importance that individuals’ place on specific moral foundations and examine its potential impact on political affiliation. However, this is not a simple task since neither political orientation nor moral intuitions can be easily persuaded through fleeting laboratory manipulations. Technically, one of the ways to counter this situation is through complementing the strategy with developmental approaches that focus on the acquirement of anxiety and fear related concepts, political attitudes and moral intuitions.


In summary, the present study in the research support the widespread moral foundation's hypotheses and also additionally showed that political and moral attitudes are influenced by the perception of social dangers (Van Leeuwen & Park, 2009). The findings supported the hypothesized association between patterns of moral duty, perceptions of social dangers and that of political affiliation. Relatively, the results denote a vital step in integrating different predictors of political references and affiliation that currently exist in the used literature. 

Relatively, the daily lives of all individuals are steeped in political content an inclusive of several attempts to alter our attitudes (Hindriks, Verkuyten & Coenders, 2014). The attitudes can be attributed to a variety of sources like media articles and our social networks. In relation, the research set out to examine how exactly morally based appeals modify the socio-political opinions of people. Several research findings point out that person’s social and political attitudes are as a result of their moral concerns. As defined by several moral foundation theories, people should ground their political as well as a social belief on their moral foundations such as the five foundations discussed previously (Clifford & Jerit, 2013). The question that the paper set out to address is the whether moral foundations causally alter the degree of support for policies and political positions and whether this difference contrast among liberals and conservatives. Consistent with assignment one of the moral foundation theory, case study two supports the hypotheses. Subsequently, this is specifically after exposure to the liberals as well as the conservatives stances on issues about political affiliations.

With particular regards to Australia, the public assertiveness to the issue influence the public policy in respect to responding to problems such as climate change. Patterns in moral perceptions scores are high in harm and fairness when compared to in a group, authority or purity from randomly picked samples (Dawson & Tyson, 2012). In relation, this is correlated with liberalism also referred to as the left wing political orientation. More specifically, moral intuitions predicted attitudes to responses to challenges such as climate change. The association however, is partially mediated by what is considered an individual’s political affinity hence generally affecting political responses. Previous research has established beyond any reasonable doubt that conservatives and liberals differ regarding their preferred moral foundations. The research also demonstrated that the political attitudes of liberals as well as conservatives are affected by the level of exposure to moral foundations. The paper’s examination was straight forward, and future research can potentially benefit from applying the framework used in this research which is embedded across varied domain and settings. Despite the fact that the research directed its focus more on political issues framed within the context of political issues, similar effects can be exhibited in other settings like community, health communication, workplaces or any other relevant settings that are framed within relevant moral foundations. In relation, it is important for future research to confirm this possibility.



Clifford, S., & Jerit, J. (2013). How words do the work of politics: Moral foundations theory and the debate over stem cell research. The Journal of Politics, 75(3), 659-671.

Davies, C. L., Sibley, C. G., & Liu, J. H. (2014). Confirmatory factor analysis of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire. Social Psychology.

Dawson, S. L., & Tyson, G. A. (2012). Will morality or political ideology determine attitudes to climate change. Australian Community Psychologist, 24(2).

Federico, C. M., Weber, C. R., Ergun, D., & Hunt, C. (2013). Mapping the connections between politics and morality: The multiple sociopolitical orientations involved in moral intuition. Political Psychology, 34(4), 589-610.

Graham, J., Haidt, J., & Nosek, B. A. (2009). Liberals and conservatives rely on different sets of moral foundations. Journal of personality and social psychology, 96, 1029.

Graham, J., Nosek, B. A., Haidt, J., Iyer, R., Koleva, S., & Ditto, P. H. (2011). Mapping the moral domain. Journal of personality and social psychology, 101(2), 366.

Haidt, J. (2008). Morality. Perspectives on psychological science, 3(1), 65-72.

Haidt, J. (2012). The righteous mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion. Vintage.

Haidt, J., & Graham, J. (2007). When morality opposes justice: Conservatives have moral intuitions that liberals may not recognize. Social Justice Research, 20(1), 98-116.

Hindriks, P., Verkuyten, M., & Coenders, M. (2014). Dimensions of social dominance orientation: The roles of legitimizing myths and national identification. European Journal of Personality, 28(6), 538-549.

Milojev, P., Osborne, D., Greaves, L. M., Bulbulia, J., Wilson, M. S., Davies, C. L., ... & Sibley, C. G. (2014). Right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation predict different moral signatures. Social Justice Research, 27(2), 149-174.

Nilsson, A., & Erlandsson, A. (2015). The Moral Foundations taxonomy: Structural validity and relation to political ideology in Sweden. Personality and Individual Differences, 76, 28-32. Lewis, G. J., & Bates, T. C. (2011). From left to right: How the personality system allows basic traits to influence politics via characteristic moral adaptations. British Journal of Psychology, 102(3), 546-558.

Progar, B. S. (2013). Moral appeals in political discourse: A moderate approach to political identification (Doctoral dissertation, San Diego State University).

Van Leeuwen, F., & Park, J. H. (2009). Perceptions of social dangers, moral foundations, and political orientation. Personality and Individual Differences, 47(3), 169-173.

Weber, C. R., & Federico, C. M. (2013). Moral foundations and heterogeneity in ideological preferences. Political Psychology, 34(1), 107-126.


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