Idealism, Relativism, and Ethics: The Moral Foundations of Individual Differences in Political Orientation Methods Abstract Both Moral Foundations Theory (MFT, Haidt & Joseph, 2008) and Ethics Position Theory (EPT, Forsyth, 1980) describe individual differences variations in individuals’ intuitive, personal moral philosophies. MFT posits five foundations of intuitive ethics: harm, fairness, ingroup, authority, and purity EPT identifies two moral dimensions: idealism (concern for consequences ) and relativism (concern for principles) We examined the congruence of these two theories by sampling the political views, justice beliefs, communal orientations, and moral foundations/ethics positions of 9128 individuals in 130 countries. The results indicated (a) differences in ethics position were significantly associated with variations in concern for harm, fairness, loyalty, authority/respect, and purity and (b)these foundational dimensions predicted respondents’ positions on a variety of political and social issues. Moral Foundations Theory Integrating evidence drawn from anthropological analyses of morality, comparative studies of the bases of cooperation in primate populations, and Haidt’s (2001) social intuitionist theory’s emphasis on the emotional foundations of morality, Haidt and Joseph (2008) identified a common set of virtues, or foundations, that undergird systems of morality in a cultures around the world: Harm/care: concern for the suffering of others; recognizes that questions of ethics are most likely to arise when actions cause others to suffer Fairness/reciprocity: justice, rights, and autonomy Ingroup/loyalty: group-level factors that influence morality, including social obligations to one’s group, such as loyalty, community, and self-sacrifice Authority/respect: morality, as a social system, is in some cases influenced by status and hierarchy, and includes respect, obedience, and tradition Purity/sanctity: cleanliness, honor, and chastity. Graham, Nosek, Haidt, Iyer, Koleva, and Ditto’s (2011) analysis of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire suggested the possibility of two superordinate dimensions (individualizing and binding). Ethics Position Theory Ethics Position Theory, or EPT, emphasizes two fundamental dimensions of variation: idealism and relativism (Forsyth, 1980, Forsyth, O’Boyle, & McDaniel, 2008). Idealism: individuals’ concern for the welfare of others (e.g., “People should make certain that their actions never intentionally harm another even to a small degree.”) Relativism: emphasis on moral principles (e.g., What is ethical varies from one situation and society to another.”) Jonathan Haidt, University of Virginia Ravi Iyer University of Southern California CFA of MFQ and EPQ Political Orientation and Ethics Position Har m I Idealism Fair We quantified the degree of overlap between the five aspects of ethics identified in MFT and the two dimensions of ethics identified in EPT by sampling the political views, justice beliefs, communal orientations, and moral foundations/ethics positions of 9128 individuals in 130 countries. Participants were 9128 individuals (37% women; mean age 36.2 years) who had previously registered at website YourMorals.org and selected to take both the MFQ and EPQ. Ingro up R Relativism Auth * Ethical Type and Politics Harm Fairness Ingroup Authority Purity 3.50 57.2% of the participants were classified similarly by the two different theoretical systems, and this percentage of agreement rose to 84.1% when differences in relativism/binding were resolved. 3.00 2.50 2.00 1.50 1.00 0.50 0.00 Exceptionists Subjectivists Consistent with Graham, Haidt, & Nosek (2009), exceptionists (EPQ: low relativism/idealism, MFQ: low individualizing/high binding) expressed the most politically conservative attitudes, and the two more relativistic types (high individualizing, subjectivists and situationists) endorsed more liberal positions. The absolutists, who have high scores on both individualizing and binding dimensions of the MFQ, fell intermediate. Purit y Scores of Situationists, Absolutists, Exceptionists, and Subjectivists on the Five Scales of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire 4.00 Politics and Ethics *Authority 4.50 These two dimensions, when taken together to define an individual’s ethical theory, define four ethics positions: absolutism, subjectivism, situationism, and exceptionism. Forsyth (1980) developed the Ethics Position Questionnaire to assess these two dimensions and 4 moral types. Analysis of individuals’ political orientation supported both theories. ANCOVA, with sex as a covariate, using ethics positions (as calculated by either MFQ scores or EPQ scores) yielded significant main effects and interaction of the two subscales, when a 5-point measure of political beliefs served as the dependent variable. The means below are based on the MFQ scores, but similar means resulted when individuals were classified using the EPQ. Liberal ----- Conservative Donelson R. Forsyth University of Richmond Absolutists Situationists Very Liberal Sub Exc 141 10 Sits Abs 680 107 Liberal 229 86 494 357 Slightly Liberal 96 114 71 169 Moderate 69 154 27 155 Slightly Conservative Conservative 11 191 2 65 3 311 2 68 Very Conservative 1 142 0 15 A more fine-grained analysis is provided by cross classifying individuals in a 4 (ideology) x 7 (political orientation) table; χ2 (18) = 2400.36, p < .001. These results suggest that subjectivists and situationists—who are both relativistic (or, alternatively, low in ingroup, authority, and purity)—are rarely conservatives. In contrast, the liberal exceptionist is very rare (1 in a 100). Of all the conservatives in the sample, 79.4% were exceptionists. Absolutists, in contrast, were more varied in their political beliefs. These individuals are idealists but also nonrelativists (or high binders), and tend to be more strict in their moral judgments. References Forsyth, D. R. (1980). A taxonomy of ethical ideologies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39(1), 175-184. Forsyth, D. R., O'Boyle Jr., E. H., & McDaniel, M. A. (2008). East meets west: A meta-analytic investigation of cultural variations in idealism and relativism. Journal of Business Ethics, 83(4), 813-833. 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. 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. Haidt, J . (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail: A social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychological Review. 108, 814-834. Haidt, J., & Joseph, C. (2008). The moral mind: How five sets of innate intuitions guide the development of many culture-specific virtues, and perhaps even modules. The innate mind volume 3: Foundations and the future (pp. 367-391) New York: Oxford University Press.