Defining moral attitudes: An examination of the structure and consequences of moral attitudes

Ciara Katelyn Kidder, University of Texas at El Paso


The goals of this dissertation were to contribute to the literature on the structure of moral attitudes and explore the consequences of moral attitudes on person perception. The goal of study 1 was to replicate and extend previous research examining the automatic nature of moral objectivity and moral universalism. In Study 1, there was no support for the relationship between morality and objectivity and morality and universality. Instead, the study demonstrated that sequential priming may be an ineffective methodology for measuring these relationships. The goal of study 2 was to examine the relationship between the similarity of participant attitude to a fictional political candidate (attitude similarity) and perceptions of warmth, competence, and voting choice. The proposed models predicted that attitude similarity influenced trustworthiness, expertise, candidate support, and voting choice. Furthermore, that relationship was predicted to be moderated by participants’ moral conviction about the social issue. Several models were significant overall, however no significant predictors emerged. Attitudes similarity significantly predicted voting choice and candidate support such that increased attitude similarity was related to the likelihood of voting yes and increased candidate support, for the issue of Abortion Rights. Moral conviction did not moderate this relationship. An exploratory moderation model for perceived charm of the candidates demonstrated a significant moderating effect of moral conviction for the issue of Using Torture in Interrogations. Limitations and future directions for both studies are discussed.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Political science|Cognitive psychology

Recommended Citation

Kidder, Ciara Katelyn, "Defining moral attitudes: An examination of the structure and consequences of moral attitudes" (2016). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10118190.