Article Information

FACTORS OF ORDINARY PERCEPTION OF MORAL RELEVANCE OF SOCIAL NORMS

Svetlana Naryan (snaryan@hse.ru)

Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia 

Citation: Naryan S. (2020) Faktory obydennogo vospriyatiya moral'noy relevantnosti sotsial'nykh norm [Factors of ordinary perception of moral relevance of social norms]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 23(1): 159–197 (in Russian). https://doi.org/10.31119/jssa.2020.23.1.6

Abstract. While studying moral judgments is a popular theme of research in the interdisciplinary science of morality, there is little evidence that the judgments that are commonly used in experiments reflect the moral domain as such and not other possible forms of normativity. In order to advance our understanding of the moral domain, this research focuses on the factors that influence ordinary perceptions of norms and situations as morally relevant. In this article, I report the results of two experiments that were based on evaluating hypothetical scenarios. In Experiment 1, the model consisted of three dependent variables: perceived moral relevance, normativity and universality. Independent variables included four factors potentially associated with moral relevance and a ten-questions version of the Big 5 personality test as a possible within-subject predictor. The results of Experiment 1 demonstrate that when an action is performed in a private (as opposed to public) context it is perceived as more morally relevant. It was also found that perceived normativity was correlated with perceived universality, and for these variables it is significant whether an action is harmful or helpful. In Experiment 2 the model also included assessments of moral relevance and normativity, as well as perceived universality of these assessments as the dependent variables. The independent variables were the six moral foundations on which the assessed scenarios were based, as well as the scale of political conservatism as the within-subject factor. As a result, it was found that the average values of perceived moral relevance and perceived normativity are significantly different both in the overall average value and for each of the moral foundations. These findings are discussed in terms of their contribution to both empirical studies of morality and theoretical understanding of moral norms in the social sciences.

Keywords: morality, moral relevance, moral foundations theory, MFT, moral foundations vignettes, MFV, factor experiment.

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