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Introduction to Part II: Do Cultural Differences in Moral Psychology Explain Political Conflict on Climate Change?

In Part II of this course we will consider how, if at all, discoveries in moral psychology can inform an understanding of political conflict and routes to their democratic resolution.

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Notes

In Part II of this course we will consider how, if at all, discoveries in moral psychology can inform an understanding of political conflict and routes to their democratic resolution.

Although Part II is related to Part I, I will present it as a fresh start. Nearly all of it should make sense independently of anything you learned in Part I.

We will focus on political conflict over climate change. This is also the part of the course where we will consider cultural differences in moral psychology. The overall question for Part II is, Do cultural differences in moral psychology explain political conflict on climate change?

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We will approach this topic by working through Feinberg & Willer (2013).

In outline, Feinberg and Willer argue that cultural differences in moral psychology do explain political conflict on climate change on the basis of five considerations.

These are considerations are:

  1. Moral convictions and the emotions they evoke shape political attitudes’ (see Do Ethical Attitudes Shape Political Behaviours?)
  2. Moral Foundations Theory is true (see Moral Pluralism: Beyond Harm; Moral Foundations Theory: An Approach to Cultural Variation; and Operationalising Moral Foundations Theory)
  3. ‘liberals and conservatives possess different moral profiles’ (see Liberals vs Conservatives)
  4. ‘liberals express greater levels of environmental concern than do conservatives in part because liberals are more likely to view environmental issues in moral terms’
  5. ‘exposing conservatives to proenvironmental appeals based on moral concerns that uniquely resonate with them will lead them to view the environment in moral terms and be more supportive of proenvironmental efforts.’

We will examine each consideration in turn.

Glossary

moral conviction : ‘Moral conviction refers to a strong and absolute belief that something is right or wrong, moral or immoral’ (Skitka, Bauman, & Sargis, 2005, p. 896).
Moral Foundations Theory : The theory that moral pluralism is true; moral foundations are innate but also subject to cultural learning, and the \gls{Social Intuitionist Model of Moral Judgement} is correct (Graham et al., 2019). Proponents often claim, further, that cultural variation in how these innate foundations are woven into ethical abilities can be measured using the Moral Foundations Questionnare (Graham, Haidt, & Nosek, 2009; Graham et al., 2011). Some empirical objections have been offered (Davis et al., 2016; Davis, Dooley, Hook, Choe, & McElroy, 2017; Doğruyol, Alper, & Yilmaz, 2019). See Moral Foundations Theory: An Approach to Cultural Variation.

References

Davis, D., Dooley, M., Hook, J., Choe, E., & McElroy, S. (2017). The Purity/Sanctity Subscale of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire Does Not Work Similarly for Religious Versus Non-Religious Individuals. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 9(1), 124–130. https://doi.org/10.1037/rel0000057
Davis, D., Rice, K., Tongeren, D. V., Hook, J., DeBlaere, C., Worthington, E., & Choe, E. (2016). The Moral Foundations Hypothesis Does Not Replicate Well in Black Samples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 110(4). https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000056
Doğruyol, B., Alper, S., & Yilmaz, O. (2019). The five-factor model of the moral foundations theory is stable across WEIRD and non-WEIRD cultures. Personality and Individual Differences, 151, 109547. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2019.109547
Feinberg, M., & Willer, R. (2013). The Moral Roots of Environmental Attitudes. Psychological Science, 24(1), 56–62. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797612449177
Graham, J., Haidt, J., Motyl, M., Meindl, P., Iskiwitch, C., & Mooijman, M. (2019). Moral Foundations Theory: On the advantages of moral pluralism over moral monism. In K. Gray & J. Graham (Eds.), Atlas of Moral Psychology. New York: Guilford Publications.
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), 1029–1046. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015141
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), 366–385. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021847
Skitka, L. J., Bauman, C., & Sargis, E. (2005). Moral Conviction: Another Contributor to Attitude Strength or Something More? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88(6), 895–917.