Five moral foundations as nonmoral residuals. An alternative model for MFQ

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Year of publication 2018
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

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Description Haidt and Joseph’s Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) is one of the most influential theory of morality using the Moral Foundation Questionnaire (MFQ) to map differences in human morality across the cultures and within societies. The theory assumes five module-like moral domains developed in human evolutionary history upon which are culturally different moralities built: harm/care, fairness/reciprocity, ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity. These domains are embedded in two broad areas of Individualizing and Binding morality. In the former it is an individual at a center of harming and unfair treatment and in the latter, it is the community binding people into mutual relationships under domains of loyalty, authority, and purity in the spotlight. MFQ was mostly used to shed a light on a link between morality and political ideology, but its use is much more diverse including religion. However, in the studies using MFQ, there is usually a poor fit between the five moral domains model and the data indicated by low CFI and TLI indices favoring null model over the five-factor model with five distinct moral domains. The crucial question is why are these indices so low and how to explain this fact? We hypothesized that five-factor model does not correspond the way people think about the moral issues as captured by MFQ. Thus, we tested enhanced and more suitable alternative model based on recent development in the factorial statistics, namely two-tier model and employed more efficient measures of internal reliability (Omega Index, Hierarchical Omega Index and Explained Common Variance). A two-tier model achieved better results than a previously employed five-factor model. Results indicate an overestimation of the five moral domains model in the research as to discern Individualizing and Binding morality seems to be more appropriate. Broader implications of results for MFQ, MFT, and research of morality will be discussed.
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