Does affect explain the relationship between moral judgment development and political choices?
Over the past four decades, research in the area of moral judgment development has shown a relationship between indices of moral judgment development and political choice measures, although no common factor has been proposed to explain this relationship. A more recent development in the field of moral psychology focuses on the role of affect in morality. While there is no consensus on the nature of this influence, researchers still actively pursue understanding of how emotions influence the ways in which people make moral judgments. Affect has also been an important component of research in cognition, as many believe that the two constructs are related. The particular aims of the study were to attempt to replicate previous findings on the relationship between moral judgment development and political choices, to determine whether negative affective arousal influenced this relationship, and to assess the ability of moral judgment development to predict dogmatism and negative affective arousal within the context of the 2008 U.S. Presidential elections. Political choices were measured using candidate feeling thermometers, questions about stances on five primary campaign issues, and voting intentions. In the political choice section, there were three experimental manipulation conditions that used photographs to elicit affective arousal in participants. The data showed that previously established curvilinear patterns in the relationship between moral judgment development and political choices remain consistent. Affective arousal did not serve as a moderator variable in the relationship between moral judgment development and political choices, but moral judgment development was found to be a statistically significant predictor of negative affective arousal and dogmatism. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings with regard to Haidt's Social Intuitionist Model and influencing voter behaviors.