The cognitive and affective dimensions of moral conviction: implications for attitudinal and behavioral measures of interpersonal tolerance

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2008 Nov;34(11):1461-76. doi: 10.1177/0146167208322557. Epub 2008 Aug 6.


The present studies investigate the role of both cognitive and affective dimensions of moral conviction in contributing to negative interpersonal responses. After demonstrating that the cognitive and affective dimensions of moral conviction are distinct constructs, the studies show that the cognitive dimension is sufficient to produce many forms of interpersonal intolerance. Simply believing an issue to be moral (i.e., objectively grounded, non-negotiable) results in greater intolerance for (Study 1), less sharing with (Study 2), and greater distancing from (Study 3) people with divergent attitudes. The emotional intensity with which beliefs are experienced is not alone explanatory. Nonetheless, it interacts with moral beliefs to produce the highest levels of interpersonal intolerance, distancing from dissimilar others, and context insensitivity. This interaction pattern between moral beliefs and affect was specific to emotional intensity and not other measures of attitude strength (Study 3).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Attitude*
  • Cognition*
  • Culture*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Morals*