Identifying the antecedents of moral conviction

Katherine R. G White, University of Texas at El Paso


Our understanding of how moral attitudes influence behavior has been greatly expanded by recent research on moral conviction, but little has been done to identify factors that contribute to the formation of moral conviction. The primary purpose of the present research was therefore to identify antecedents to moral conviction. Across two studies, three potential antecedents were identified - reliance on the Harm moral foundation, personal relevance, and attitude intensity. In study 1 (N = 469), high individual reliance on the Harm moral foundation predicted stronger moral conviction. In study 2 (N = 460), high personal relevance and greater attitude intensity predicted stronger moral conviction. Study 2 also tested three separate hypotheses forwarded by the Integrated Theory of Moral Conviction (ITMC) – the universality, objectivity, and emotion hypotheses. While results offered support for the objectivity and emotion hypotheses, support for the universality hypothesis was equivocal. Future research is required to determine the mechanism by which personal relevance increases moral conviction and the directional links between emotion and moral conviction.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology

Recommended Citation

White, Katherine R. G, "Identifying the antecedents of moral conviction" (2012). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3525856.