Moral Foundations theory in the context of a political scandal: Two cross sectional studies in Croatia

Keywords: moral foundations structure, political scandal, Moral Foundations Questionnaire, Key Social Issues Scale, conservative individuals, liberal values


Aim: The aim of this study was to examine the moral foundations structure in the Croatian population, and to examine possible changes in moral foundation structure after a major political scandal in Croatia.

Methods: We conducted an online survey using Moral Foundations Questionnaire and Key Social Issues Scale, which was distributed in two waves, in 2009 and 2014. Participants were invided from the Faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences at the universities in Zagreb and Split and asked to distribute the survey to colleagues and friends.

Results: 3000 participants completed the survey in 2009, 1323 participants completed the survey in 2014. In both samples, most participants reported that they relied more on individual foundations of “Care/Harm” and “Fairness/Cheating”, than on relational foundations of “Loyalty/Betrayal”, “Authority/Subversion” or “Sanctity/Degradation”, which are typically more valued by traditionally oriented or conservative individuals. Comparison of the two measurement time points indicated that scores on traditional foundations significantly decreased, while liberal values increased. These changes were triangulated and confirmed by the results on the Key Social Issues Scale.

Conclusion: This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first study which analysed the changes in the moral foundations structure after a major political scandal, implicating that negative political events may decrease the expression of moral foundations related to the values which are nurtured by a political party involved in the scandal.

Research Articles