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Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Lehman, Barbara J.
Trimble, Joseph E.
Riordan, Catherine A.
Current research suggests that there are differences in the moral foundations of liberals and conservatives. Liberals’ moral foundations tend to focus on issues of fairness, equality, and social justice while conservatives’ focus on issues of authority, purity, and social order. Framing political issues in the context of moral foundations such as harm or purity can cause a change in political attitudes. The current study examines whether framing issues in the context of harm or purity affects approach (social justice, self-reliance) and avoidance (social order, self-restraint) moral motives, and examines the role of high activation negative emotions in this process. It was expected that framing issues using the harm foundation, would increase social justice motives, especially among conservatives. Results showed that when political issues were framed to induce feelings of causing or avoiding harm, conservatives showed more motivation toward social justice concerns. In contrast, framing had no effect on the social justice motives of liberals. High activation negative emotions played no role in this relationship. Also, framing had no effect on self-reliance, social order, or self-restraint motives among conservatives or liberals. These results suggest that conservatives’ social justice motives can be increased by framing political issues to induce feelings of causing or avoiding harm. This could be a consideration when developing political communication strategies to promote social justice motives.
Western Washington University
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Thompson, Joshua A., "Framing and Moral Motives: The Interaction Between Moral Foundations and Political Identity in Predicting Motives" (2017). WWU Masters Thesis Collection. 552.