Discuss how liberal orientation will rate harm and fair foundations as more relevant for making moral decisions than the in-group, authority and foundations.
Variations in moral foundations theory
Moral Foundations Theory was originally developed to describe moral differences across cultures (Haidt & Joseph, 2004).The five foundations were ; harm/care, fairness/reciprocity, ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect and purity/sanctity (Graham, J.; Haidt, J., 2007) .The degree to which virtues were based on these foundations vary across cultures (Graham, J.; Haidt, J., 2007), (Skitka, Morgan, & Wisneski, 2014).
According to Haidt and Graham (2007), political liberals values virtues based on the first two foundations while the political conservatives values virtues based on all the foundations (Graham, J.; Haidt, J.; Nosek, A., 2009). Although many studies were based in five moral foundations, (Graham, Haidt, Motyl, & Meindl P., 2017) mentions that liberty/oppression equity/deservingness and honesty/lying were other moral foundations that were under considerations.
Conservatives have traditionally believed that people need the constraints of authority, institutions and traditions to live civilly with each other while the liberals believe on personal freedom. (Graham, J.; Haidt, J.; Nosek, A., 2009)
Moral politics theory indicates that both conservatives and liberals have political attitudes rooted in moral concerns (Skitka, Morgan, & Wisneski, 2014) however, conservatives have moral concerns that the liberals do not recognize (Graham, J.; Haidt, J., 2007).This is the reason they have different opinions based on moral judgement (Graham, J.; Haidt, J.; Nosek, A., 2009).
The ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’ perceptions and decisions differ and it is evident even in their voting preferences. In the 2004 U.S exit polls for example ,it indicated that most voters considered moral values as the most important factor (Skitka, Morgan, & Wisneski, 2014)while casting their votes especially for the conservatives.
There was no correlation between political orientation and the participants’ general tendency to moralize political issues (Skitka, Morgan, & Wisneski, 2014).However; the degree to which they saw their most important issues in a moral light, the liberals felt stronger moral conviction for their least important issues.
Moral convictions motivates both liberals and conservatives to show up at the polls on election day(Stitka &Bauman,2008) and the degree to which voters attach moral significance to candidates or issues motivates political engagement (Skitka, Morgan, & Wisneski, 2014).
From self-reported political meta-analysis along other demographic factors that included age, gender, education level and income level, it was found that political identity was a significant predictor variable across all five foundations (Graham, J.; Haidt, J.; Nosek, A., 2009) .The effects of politics on foundation relevance scores were consistent across nations under study (Graham, J.; Haidt, J.; Nosek, A.;, 2009).
From the literatures, it is clear that Meta-analysis method was employed determine whether there was any relationship between politics and moral convictions (Graham, J.; Haidt, J.; Nosek, A., 2009).Demographic factors were incorporated for better description and understanding of the population. Political identity was the dependent variable and demographic factors and the moral convictions were considered the independent variables.
Differences in moral concerns between liberals and conservatives
In Australia, however, political parties may not be considered purely liberal or conservative. As those in support of the Liberal Party may be grouped as conservatives while those, who were in support of Australian Labor party may be considered liberals.
Voting decisions were determined by other factors but our study will focus on the five moral foundations of the participants. This will enable us to understand the relevant considerations for the voters in Australia.
Most studies were in the European region where political orientations were purely liberal or conservative. However, Australia does not have much documentation, this opens up a gap for study. This study therefore, seeks to find out if there is any relevance between moral foundations and political orientations in Australia.
The findings of this study will be useful in informing election candidates on the strategies they ought to use to gain more votes. It will also contribute to the on-going literatures about psychology.
Which of the moral foundations were relevant for persons with liberal political orientations?
Which of the moral foundations were relevant for persons with conservative political orientations?
H01: it was hypothesized that those with a liberal orientation will rate harm and fair foundations as more relevant for making moral decisions than the in-group, authority and foundations.
H02: It was hypothesized that those with a conservative political orientation will rate all five foundations as being (approximately) equally relevant.
Data will be obtained from online surveys and the target population were the individuals who voluntarily participate in the survey.
Descriptive research design will be utilized to show the distribution of respondents on their political orientations. Further meta-analysis methods will be carried out to explain any patterns in our dataset.
Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) will be utilized as the analysis tool.
The study is limited to the number of respondents who will be willing to participate in the online survey. A small sample size is anticipated to affect our results, as it will not be representative of Australia.
In summary, the literatures show that much has not been done in Australia and this opens up a gap for further research, as a result we will get a better understanding of morality and political orientation.
The results from the study will help the candidates on their campaigning strategies in order to win the elections. It will also lead to better appreciation of other people’s decisions based on their moral foundations.
Impact on voting decisions and political engagement
The sample for this study includes 59 men and 168 women. The mean age of the men were 23.42 years and the standard deviation is 7.60. Whereas, the mean age of the women were 21.41 years and with a standard deviation of 5.47. The mean age of the female respondents was slightly lower than the mean age of the male respondents. The age difference was significantly high, t(225)=2.18 and p=0.011. The age of the respondents was found to be within the range of 18 to 55 years.
In the wide arena of politics people were found to be either following the conservative or liberal psychology. This study emphasizes on a single item Political Orientation question and the questionnaire consists a scale with 7 different options. The 7 different options were strongly conservative, moderately conservative, slightly conservative, moderate/neutral, slightly liberal, moderately liberal, strongly liberal. This survey questionnaire has a positive aspect which is that it can effectively differentiate people that have liberal and conservative mindset. Another set of questionnaires is also considered for the study which is the Moral Foundation Questionnaire (MFQ). The questionnaire can be self-administered that quantifies the individual priorities and choices that were moral and have an impact on making decisions. MFQ questionnaire is based on the 5 moral foundations, which were: harm/care, fairness, loyalty or ingroup, authority, purity. There were two different parts in the Moral Foundations Questionnaire; the first part is used for specific study and the second part deals with the moral relevance and the moral judgements. Considering the study, only the moral relevance is used for the study purpose. This particular section starts with a question: actually, when a person decides and thinks that something is wrong or right and the degree to which a particular question is found to be relevant. In the first part of the questionnaire, there were sixteen questions and there is a scale which depicts both the irrelevancy and the relevancy.
The 168 women and the 59 men respondents used for the study were asked to respond to a single item political orientation question which is based on the opinion and choice of a specific type of politics (conservative or liberal). The whole test emphasizes on a single scale and the respondents provide their responses on a seven-point scale which has two extremes. 1 was strongly liberal while 7 was strongly conservative. The Moral Foundation Questionnaire consists of the sixteen questionnaires and is completely based on the moral relevance. The questionnaire was provided to the respondents who were aged within the group of 18 to 55 years of age. The data accumulated from the responses were utilized for the further study.
In order to quantify the moral relevance from the Moral Foundation Questionnaire, the moral relevance is taken as a function for the political orientation. Data accumulated from the respondents clearly depicts that political orientation data in terms of mean and standard deviation and along with it the number of respondents that chose a specific category is understandable.
Throughout the study, a total of 239 survey were performed. However, because of the unavailability of data only twelve sets of the reported responses were considered for the study and for the extended analysis. The three respondents failed to furnish the political orientation question test, and about 9 of the respondents failed to complete the Moral Foundation Questionnaire. Hence, a total of 227 responses were used for the extended study and analysis.
Table 1: Standard deviation and mean of the moral relevance ratings of each of the moral foundations and political function as a function.
The majority of the respondents were found to be inclined towards the neutral and moderate psychology and also it seen that a maximum number of the respondents were found to be exhibiting the liberal psychology. Both the moral foundation of fairness (reciprocity) and harm is depicting the biggest occurrences among all the political orientation (figure 2). The remaining moral foundations were purity, authority, ingroup, and the mean values of all the moral foundation were found consistently in all the political orientation. To specifically designate the different number of the individuals in all the political orientation: Only 8 individuals have been found to be exhibiting the strongly liberal category; 14 individuals were found to be inclined towards the
Figure 1: Graph showing the comparison between the moral foundations as function of the political orientation.
Figure 2: Graph showing the comparison of the respondents that responded to each of the political orientation.
moderate conservative political orientation; 20 individuals were found to be voting the slightly conservative political orientation; 40 individuals were found to be voting for the slightly liberal category; however, a majority of the respondents were found to be voting for the moderate/neutral and the moderately liberal political orientation and the number of individuals were 73 and 71 respectively.
In accordance to the figure 1, the mean values of the fairness (reciprocity) and harm shows high mean values in all the political orientation. The mean vales of moderately conservative, slightly conservative, the moderate/neutral political orientation were found to be similar with the values of the fairness (reciprocity). Similar mean values is also noticed in the ingroup section of the moderate conservative, neutral/conservative, strongly liberal and moderate/neutral values. The mean values of the authority in moderate conservative, slightly conservative and in moderate/neutral political orientation reveals similar values. The mean values of the harm in the moderate conservative, slightly conservative and moderate/neutral political orientation shows similar types of values. The similarity of the mean in the fairness value of the moderate conservative, slightly conservative and moderate/neutral political orientation is at par with the mean of the moral foundation of harm. The standard deviation values of the fairness were found to show similar values in the slightly liberal, strong liberal and moderately liberal. The standard deviation of fairness is found to be in accordance with the values of the moderate/neutral, moderate conservative and slightly conservative.
The hypothesis states that those with a conservative political orientation will rate all five foundations as being (approximately) equally relevant. Whereas, this particular hypothesis do not conform to the collected data. The data clearly depicts that, the mean values of harm and fairness of liberal political orientation were totally in accordance with the second hypothesis. The second states that those with a liberal orientation will rate harm and fair foundations as more relevant for making moral decisions than the in-group, authority and purity foundations. According to the first hypothesis, all the 5-moral foundation were not showing equal relevance. The people exhibiting the conservative mindset is less flexible towards adopting any radical change. The conservative mindset of the people renders them critical of the changes occurring in the society (Weber & Federico, 2013). It has been seen that the people exhibiting conservative psychology can accept the only the changes that occur gradually, although it is noticed that some people also prefer earlier values. The care/harm moral foundation states that mammals belonging to the animal kingdom, which also include the humans have a tendency to provide care and protection to the young offspring that were vulnerable for an extended time period. Consequently, the children were also dependent upon their parents for food and shelter also for an extended period. Through the evolution of the human being, nature has gifted human beings with the capability to both dislike and have sympathy for another human being. Through this understanding, the conservative psychology has developed with other characteristics like kindness, nurturance and gentleness (Davies, Sibley & Liu, 2014). Due to this reason the people exhibiting the conservative psychology do not consider harming others. This promotes development of positive relationships with the other individuals. The people whose minds were advanced have a tendency of extracting more benefits by cheating others. Whereas, another type of people who follows the psychology of helping others also want to get help during the need, this type of people belongs to the category of fairness moral foundation. This is the reason due to which people want to be treated the way by they treat others. Thus, conservative expect that people must receive that they deserve in their life (Day et al., 2014).
From both the figure 1 and, the individuals that have responded for the fairness and harm moral foundations were maximally observed in the conservatives. However, the same condition is observed in the strongly liberal, slightly liberal and moderately liberal moral foundations. This gives a strong depiction that people belonging from both the liberal and conservative mindset give equal preference to the fairness and harm moral foundation. The other important information that can be derived from the figure 1 and 2 were that the other moral foundations like the authority, purity and ingroup were seen to consistently of less significance to the respondents. The ingroup moral foundation is found to be comparatively high in the slightly liberal, moderately liberal, strongly liberal. However, just the reverse is found within the moderate conservative, slightly conservative and moderate/neutral in which high number of responses were found in the authority moral foundation.
The loyalty or ingroup moral foundation is an appropriate psychology of the conservative people, whereas the same is not found among the liberals. When the history of the prehistoric people is considered, it was seen that they used to stay in groups. When the history of prehistoric people is considered, it was seen that they used to stay in groups for survival and sustenance. The ingroup model Foundation emphasize on cohesion and identity in club, profession, team, clan race, tribe and family and Indifference reduction. The similar kind of tendency is observed in patriotism, which shows self-sacrifice for country’s sake or in group (Leidner & Castano, 2012). It is found that the authority moral Foundation conforms with the conservative psychology. All the within the liberals the priority of in group is low. From a very long time, it was seen that a leader is needed who can take responsibility when a situation arises, to lead from the front. The moral foundation of in group depicts a conservative political orientation and the virtues like leadership tradition obedience points towards a legitimate authority. However, it has been seen through the data that the purity moral Foundation is having lower preference within the conservatives and liberals. Irrespective of the time period, the human beings have considered the dirty and the polluted things to be untouchable. However, on the other side humans have the capability to protect the Holly and sacred Institutions and objects (Graham et al., 2012).
According to the study, the data gathered from the respondents do not clearly represent the political orientation. The sample size considered for the study is less and the sample size needs to be increased to increase is external validity. Because from the data gathered it is found that the strongly conservative column exhibit only one respondent. However, in the study more variables were considered (authority, purity, ingroup, harm and fairness) and thus can be said that the study is not internally valid.
When the recent trends were considered, Australia can be seen as a liberal country which is economically liberal and socially progressive. Although there were certain policies that still have the conservative attitude like the same sex marriage is still not legal. The refugees that arrived on to the Australian shores were sent to detention centers that were located in the offshore (Coleman, 2016). The data received from the questionnaire show that majority of the respondents have an inclination towards the liberal psychology. Thus, it can be inferred that Australia has gradually transformed into a liberal Nation.
Coleman, W. (Ed.). (2016). Only in Australia: The history, politics, and economics of Australian exceptionalism. Oxford University Press.
Davies, C. L., Sibley, C. G., & Liu, J. H. (2014). Confirmatory factor analysis of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire. Social Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1027/1864-9335/a000201
Day, M. V., Downing, E. L., Fiske, S. T., & Trail, T. E. (2014). Shifting Liberal and Conservative Attitudes Using Moral Foundations Theory. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 15(1).doi10.1177/0146167214551152
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