Section 57
Chapter 56,411

The moral ties that bind ... even to out-groups: the interactive effect of moral identity and the binding moral foundations

Smith, I.H.; Aquino, K.; Koleva, S.; Graham, J.

Psychological Science 25(8): 1554-1562


ISSN/ISBN: 1467-9280
PMID: 24919511
DOI: 10.1177/0956797614534450
Accession: 056410192

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Throughout history, principles such as obedience, loyalty, and purity have been instrumental in binding people together and helping them thrive as groups, tribes, and nations. However, these same principles have also led to in-group favoritism, war, and even genocide. Does adhering to the binding moral foundations that underlie such principles unavoidably lead to the derogation of out-group members? We demonstrated that for people with a strong moral identity, the answer is "no," because they are more likely than those with a weak moral identity to extend moral concern to people belonging to a perceived out-group. Across three studies, strongly endorsing the binding moral foundations indeed predicted support for the torture of out-group members (Studies 1a and 1b) and withholding of necessary help from out-group members (Study 2), but this relationship was attenuated among participants who also had a strong moral identity.