Review : Liberals and Conservatives rely on different sets of moral foundations – 1/2

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(5), 1029. This paper by Jesse Graham, Jonathan Haidt & Brian Nosek (University of Virginia) uses Moral Foundations Theory  (MFT) to test whether liberals and conservatives give different weightings to 5 sets of moral intuitions. The 5 moral intuitions tested in the paper are (the latest version of  MFT has 6 foundations with one for Liberty being added):

  1. Harm/Care
  2. Fairness/reciprocity
  3. Ingroup/loyalty
  4. Authority/respect
  5. Purity/sanctity

Their conclusion is that liberals and conservative do in fact place different weightings on each of these moral intuitions.  Liberals strongly favour the moral intuitions of Harm/Care and Fairness/Reciprocity in their decision making while conservatives rely on a more balanced weighting of all the moral intuitions.  Hence giving rise to distinct types of moral reasoning which are fundamentally different in their decision architecture.  Consequently, as political groups become more polarised the ability of individuals in one group to interpret the moral reasoning of individuals in another group becomes increasingly difficult.  Even when the ultimate goal is the same. Continue reading

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