This dissertation focuses on two theoretical questions about the nature of moral judgment: Do the boundaries of the moral domain extend beyond issues of harm, rights, and fairness? And how and why do moral judgments vary across cultures and individuals? I explore these theoretical questions through three empirical studies of everyday moral phenomena.
The first study addresses recent work suggesting that conservatives have greater concerns about moral purity than liberals. I find the following: (1) conservatives are more concerned than liberals about sexual purity, but this effect is weaker or non-existent for food purity, (2) moral disapproval and disgust are highly correlated, and (3) religiosity has a similar but independent effect as conservatism on purity concerns. These results support a more limited view of the liberal-conservative purity difference. Moreover, conservative concerns about sexual purity may be driven by their greater support for the status quo.
The second study addresses the question of whether people evaluate everyday objects such as refrigerators as morally good or bad. I find that everyday objects are seen as morally positive and, unlike mere liking, the moral evaluation of objects is positively linked to the age and political conservatism of the participants. These findings suggest that people morally evaluate everyday objects either through a process of moral mere exposure or a status quo bias that views them as embodying system justifying ideologies.
The third study addresses the question of why people object to the use of performance enhancing drugs such as steroids. I test whether it can be partly attributed to a status quo bias and find that participants are more forgiving of drug use when it is aimed at restoring than changing an individual's status quo abilities and when drug use is a longstanding rather than newly adopted group practice.
Together these three studies suggest that (1) the boundaries of the moral domain are broader than harm and (2) moral judgments are characterized by significant individual differences that may be tied to the status quo. Moreover, the status quo may play an important role in shaping everyday moral judgments.
|School Location:||United States -- Connecticut|
|Source:||DAI-B 70/06, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Social psychology, Experimental psychology, Cognitive psychology|
|Keywords:||Conservatism, Disgust, Ideology, Judgment, Moral judgment, Morality, Status quo|
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