Jeffrey Sinn, Ph.D.
College of Arts and Sciences
This research examines ideological differences between liberals and conservatives using Schwartz Value Theory (SVT) to analyze claims made by Moral Foundations Theory (MFT). While MFT consists of five scales to measure moral reasoning (Harm/Care, Fairness/Reciprocity, Purity/Sanctity, Ingroup/Loyalty, and Authority/Respect), SVT consists of ten scales that can be grouped into four main categories (Openness to Change, Self-Transcendence, Conservation, and Self-Enhancement). Based on SVT, we created four Moral Forces scales (MF4) using the two response formats of the MFT. Our scales are the following: Obedience, Status, Universalism, and Self-Direction. Data was collected through social media and university classes in the format of online and paper surveys. Using stepwise regression, MF4’s scales of Obedience and Universalism emerged as the best predictors for self-reported conservatism. For social-issue conservatism, MF4’s Obedience and Universalism were also the best predictors that emerged. Lastly, for economic-issue conservatism, Fairness from MFT and MF4’s Self-Direction and Universalism emerged as predictors. Our findings suggest that the MFT measures the moralization of values rather than moral foundations. Additionally, the MF4 identifies moralized values undetected by MFT and thereby provides a more accurate picture of liberal-conservative differences. The logic of this is that other values can be moralized or translated into the MFT “language” and thus they will be treated as moral values.
McNeace, Marissa and Sinn, Jeffrey
"Moral Foundations Theory vs. Schwartz Value Theory: Which Theory Best Explains Ideological Differences?,"
The Winthrop McNair Research Bulletin: Vol. 4, Article 6.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.winthrop.edu/wmrb/vol4/iss1/6