Liberals and conservatives have different moral foundations, according to research published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2009.
The research was conducted by Jesse Graham, Jonathan Haidt, and Brain A. Nosek of the University of Virginia.
Graham and his colleagues conducted four separate studies to investigate the relationship between people’s political affiliation and their moral foundations.
The moral foundation theory developed by Graham and his colleagues consists of five main moral foundations: Harm – caring for and not hurting others, Fairness – equality and reciprocity, Ingroup – loyalty to one’s group, Authority – respect for leadership, and Purity – the sanctity of social norms and customs.
The first two of the four studies were composed of a total of 3,825 participants from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Argentina. These participants completed a survey in which their political affiliation was compared to their ratings of the relevance of the five moral foundations discussed above.
These two studies found that liberals tended to be more concerned with the moral foundations of Harm and Fairness than conservatives, while conservatives tended to be more concerned with the moral foundations of Ingroup, Authority, and Purity than liberals.
The third study was composed of 8,193 participants from all across the globe and examined the “moral trade-offs” that liberals and conservatives were willing to make.