Reanalysing the factor structure of the moral foundations questionnaire

Harper, C.A. ORCID: 0000-0002-3172-0129 and Rhodes, D. ORCID: 0000-0001-5859-4567, 2021. Reanalysing the factor structure of the moral foundations questionnaire. British Journal of Social Psychology. ISSN 0144-6665

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The moral foundations theory (MFT) is an influential multifactorial model that posits how decision‐making in the moral context originates from a set of six intuitive moral foundations: care, fairness, authority, loyalty, purity, and liberty. The established measure of these foundations—the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (MFQ)—has been used extensively in a range of empirical projects. However, recent analyses of its factor structure and the internal consistency of each of the foundation clusters have called its validity into question. In this paper, data from a large sample of British voters were used to re‐examine the factor structure of the MFQ. As opposed to a 6‐factor structure, only three meaningful clusters emerged in an exploratory principal factors analysis (Study 1; N = 428): traditionalism, compassion, and liberty. This structure was broadly confirmed in an independent sample (Study 2; N = 322). Concurrent validity was established via correlations with measures of ‘social change’ and ‘systemic inequality’ insecurities (Study 1) and voting behaviour and preferences (Study 2). Significant differences on each of the three factors of the revised MFQ (MFQ‐r) were observed between the voters of different political parties (Study 1) and sides of the Brexit issue (Study 2). Implications for moral foundations theory and its measurement are discussed.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: British Journal of Social Psychology
Creators: Harper, C.A. and Rhodes, D.
Publisher: Wiley
Date: 17 February 2021
ISSN: 0144-6665
Rights: © 2021 the authors. British Journal of Social Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 22 Feb 2021 08:41
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:06

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