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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Winter 2017

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Lehman, Barbara J.

Second Advisor

Trimble, Joseph E.

Third Advisor

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

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Conservatives--Conduct of life; Liberals--Conduct of life; Moral motivation; Judgment (Ethics); Social justice--Moral and ethical aspects




masters theses




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