Moral conviction: another contributor to attitude strength or something more?

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2005 Jun;88(6):895-917. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.88.6.895.


Attitudes held with strong moral conviction (moral mandates) were predicted to have different interpersonal consequences than strong but nonmoral attitudes. After controlling for indices of attitude strength, the authors explored the unique effect of moral conviction on the degree that people preferred greater social (Studies 1 and 2) and physical (Study 3) distance from attitudinally dissimilar others and the effects of moral conviction on group interaction and decision making in attitudinally homogeneous versus heterogeneous groups (Study 4). Results supported the moral mandate hypothesis: Stronger moral conviction led to (a) greater preferred social and physical distance from attitudinally dissimilar others, (b) intolerance of attitudinally dissimilar others in both intimate (e.g., friend) and distant relationships (e.g., owner of a store one frequents), (c) lower levels of good will and cooperativeness in attitudinally heterogeneous groups, and (d) a greater inability to generate procedural solutions to resolve disagreements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude*
  • Capital Punishment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morals*
  • Psychological Distance
  • Surveys and Questionnaires