A systematic analysis of the moral foundations of right-wing ideology in the UK.



Gordts, Sarah
(2020) A systematic analysis of the moral foundations of right-wing ideology in the UK. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Abstract

The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the relationship between right-wing ideology dimensions (RWA and SDO) and moral intuitions in the UK. The Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) is currently the most prominent theory on moral intuitions and defines five moral intuitions or foundations (care, fairness, loyalty, authority, and purity) which are further summarised into two broad moral domains (individualising and binding foundations). The first research line in this thesis assessed how RWA and SDO relate to individualising and binding foundations with a self-report measurement of moral foundations (Study One), hypothetical moral dilemmas (Study Two-Five), and a visual moral stimulus set (Study Six). Results indicated that while RWA was associated with a greater concern for binding foundations and SDO with a reduced concern for individualising foundations, these relationships did not generalise well beyond the self-report measure for moral foundations. The second research line in this thesis (Study Seven) explored the implications of self-reported concern for individualising and binding foundations on socio-political outcomes of RWA and SDO. It was found that individualising and binding foundations predicted how threatening immigrants are perceived and the willingness to engage in collective action in the context of immigration, although these effects were most consistent for binding foundations. Moral foundations also mediated the effect of RWA and SDO on perceived threat and collective action intent, suggesting that moral foundations can at least partly account for the socio-political outcomes that are associated with right-wing ideology. Study One, Six, and Seven also evaluated the construct validity of current measures for moral foundations and overall found a poor performance of the self-report methods and the visual imagery set in British participants. Taken together, the studies in this thesis demonstrated that right-wing ideology dimensions (RWA, SDO) are associated with self-reported moral foundations in the UK and that these associations further predict relevant socio-political outcomes, but the findings cast doubt on the overall applicability of MFT to the UK context. These studies were carried out in convenience samples mostly recruited via online worker platforms which limits the generalisability of these results to the general population. Although additional research is necessary to evaluate the stability of the relationships between RWA, SDO, and moral foundations and the generalisability of MFT to the UK, the results from this thesis suggest that self-reported moral foundations are important to consider in the context of right-wing ideology and socio-political outcomes, and social and political polarisation more broadly.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy)
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Institute of Population Health
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2021 13:19
Last Modified: 30 Oct 2021 00:13
DOI: 10.17638/03138025
Supervisors:
  • Cole, Jonathan
  • Almond, Louise
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3138025