Moral “foundations” as the product of motivated social cognition: Empathy and other psychological underpinnings of ideological divergence in “individualizing” and “binding” concerns

Michael Strupp-Levitsky, Sharareh Noorbaloochi, Andrew Shipley, John T. Jost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

According to moral foundations theory, there are five distinct sources of moral intuition on which political liberals and conservatives differ. The present research program seeks to contextualize this taxonomy within the broader research literature on political ideology as motivated social cognition, including the observation that conservative judgments often serve system-justifying functions. In two studies, a combination of regression and path modeling techniques were used to explore the motivational underpinnings of ideological differences in moral intuitions. Consistent with our integrative model, the “binding” foundations (in-group loyalty, respect for authority, and purity) were associated with epistemic and existential needs to reduce uncertainty and threat and system justification tendencies, whereas the so-called “individualizing” foundations (fairness and avoidance of harm) were generally unrelated to epistemic and existential motives and were instead linked to empathic motivation. Taken as a whole, these results are consistent with the position taken by Hatemi, Crabtree, and Smith that moral “foundations” are themselves the product of motivated social cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0241144
JournalPloS one
Volume15
Issue number11 November
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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