What makes it moral? Measuring differences between moral and non-moral attitudes

Ciara Katelyn Kidder, University of Texas at El Paso


Moral attitudes have unique behavioral consequences. Theory predicts that moral attitudes are uniquely different than non-moral attitudes on a variety of dimensions. Of particular interest to the current study are two cognitive characteristics: objectivity, the belief that one's moral attitudes are factual and universality, the belief that one's moral attitudes ought to apply to everyone. These constructs have only been informally examined by a handful of studies. The aim of the current research was to examine the associations of morality to objectivity and universality using idiographic Implicit Association Tests. There were two primary hypotheses. The first hypothesis was that there would be faster reaction times for the expected associations (Objectivity IAT: fact/moral and opinion/non-moral; Universality IAT: self/non-moral and others/moral) than for the unexpected associations (Objectivity IAT: fact/non-moral and opinion/moral; Universality IAT: self/moral and others/non-moral). The first hypothesis was supported for the objectivity IAT, but the results were driven by an order effect. The universality IAT effect was non-significant. The second hypothesis was that morality would impact the congruity effect predicted by the first hypothesis. The second hypothesis was not supported for either IAT. Additional analyses reveled support for connections between moral attitudes and indices of attitude strength and unique differences between moral and non-moral attitudes. Implications for future research on morality, universality and objectivity, and the use of the IAT are discussed.

Subject Area

Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Kidder, Ciara Katelyn, "What makes it moral? Measuring differences between moral and non-moral attitudes" (2014). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1557768.