Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Moral Foundations Quiz

I love taking personality quizzes. One quiz I find particularly interesting is the Moral Foundations Questionnaire, which can be found here: Morality Quizzes along with many others. Under this questionnaire, there are 5 moral foundations that people take into account when deciding whether something is right or wrong, which exist across cultures:

1. Harm/Care - whether anyone was hurt.
2. Fairness/Reciprocity - whether everyone was treated equally and fairly
3. Authority/Respect - respect for authority figures and upholding social order
4. Ingroup/Loyalty - loyalty to groups that you are part of, such as social circles, family, country
5. Purity/Sanctity - feeling a sense of purity and avoiding disgust

People who are liberal typically put the more emphasis on care and fairness than the other three qualities. People who are conservative tend to value all five about equally. It's interesting to understand why people disagree on moral issues: even if the right thing to do seems perfectly clear to one person, another person may see it differently because they have different moral values.

My results showed that care and fairness are very important to me, and authority, loyalty, and purity don't really matter at all.  I came out very liberal compared to the average scores: I placed care and fairness slightly higher than average, and I place the other three values much lower than average.

I took another survey on the same website called the "Sacredness Survey," which relates the 5 moral foundations to real-life scenarios. Instead of being asked whether you agree or disagree with general statements, you are asked for how much money you would do different things that violate the 5 foundations.  You could do it for free, $10, $100, etc. up to $1 million, or say that you wouldn't do it for any amount of money. My scores on what I would actually do are completely different from what I believe is right and wrong in hypothetical situations. On this quiz, loyalty and purity mattered just as much to me as harm and care. Authority was still lower, but not by as much as it was in the first quiz.

I think the issue with purity is this: I do feel disgusted easily and I hate to feel that way, but logically, I don't believe that something is morally wrong because I find it disgusting. On the second quiz, there were many things that I wouldn't do because they were disgusting to me, but I would not consider those things morally wrong if someone else did them.

Ingroup loyalty is kind of complicated. Loyalty to people I love and groups that I feel loyal to is very important to me, and plays a major role in the choices I make. If I took the Moral Foundations Quiz before I had taken any psychology classes or learned what "ingroup" meant, I would have assumed that loyalty to an ingroup meant loyalty to your friends, and I would have rated it much higher than purity and authority. But while I do believe in loyalty to friends, close family, and anyone you choose to have a relationship with, an ingroup does not always constitute a group that you chose to be a part of. An ingroup can be your family, your city, your school, your country...groups that you're kind of stuck being a part of, that you may not actually like or feel any loyalty towards. Loyalty to an ingroup could mean sticking up for your friend when they're not around, but it could also mean not reporting harassment within a team or group, or doing something you don't want to do that is part of your culture, such as an arranged marriage. Some people consider it a betrayal when members of a certain culture or group aren't interested in clubs and events for people in that group. Because loyalty can mean so many different things, I can't really agree to general statements about loyalty and betrayal. But when asked specific questions about what I would do, loyalty is very important.

I would be curious to see how other people score, and what constitutes the differences between what you believe in general and what you would do.

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