Moral Concerns and Policy Attitudes: Investigating the Influence of Elite Rhetoric

Political Communication, Forthcoming

38 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2014

See all articles by Scott Clifford

Scott Clifford

University of Houston - Department of Political Science

Jennifer Jerit

State University of New York (SUNY), Stony Brook

Carlisle Rainey

Texas A&M University

Matt Motyl

University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Illinois at Chicago

Date Written: July 8, 2014

Abstract

A growing body of research documents the crucial role played by moral concerns in the formation of attitudes and a wide range of political behaviors. Yet extant models of moral judgment portray a direct linkage between moral intuitions and policy attitudes, leaving little room for the influence of political context. In this article, we argue that political rhetoric plays an important role in facilitating the connection between moral intuitions and political attitudes. Using a unique combination of media content analysis of the stem cell debate and individual-level measures of the public’s moral foundations, we examine the role of rhetoric in linking a person’s moral foundations to their attitudes. Our results show that individuals who are the most likely to have been exposed to political rhetoric have the strongest connection between their moral foundations and their attitudes on the issue. We also find that rhetoric was persuasive on this moralized issue and present suggestive evidence that it was most persuasive among those who endorsed the relevant moral foundation.

Keywords: morality, political psychology, attitudes, elite rhetoric, persuasion, content analysis, moral foundations, stem cell

Suggested Citation

Clifford, Scott and Jerit, Jennifer and Rainey, Carlisle and Motyl, Matt, Moral Concerns and Policy Attitudes: Investigating the Influence of Elite Rhetoric (July 8, 2014). Political Communication, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2463871

Scott Clifford (Contact Author)

University of Houston - Department of Political Science ( email )

TX 77204-3011
United States

Jennifer Jerit

State University of New York (SUNY), Stony Brook ( email )

Health Science Center

Carlisle Rainey

Texas A&M University ( email )

201 Allen Building
College Station, TX 77843
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.carlislerainey.com

Matt Motyl

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1007 W. Harrison St. (m/c 285)
Psychology Department
Chicago, IL 60607
United States

HOME PAGE: http://motyl.people.uic.edu

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1102 Behavioral Science Building (BSB)
Chicago, IL 60607-7137
United States

HOME PAGE: http://motyl.people.uic.edu

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