Moral Violations in Groups: How Group Relationships Regulate Individual Morality




Cowart, Erin

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This study assessed the underlying dynamics of group relationships and individual moral beliefs. Sociorelational contexts, based on relationship regulation theory (Rai & Fiske, 2011), in-group/out-group dynamics, and the moral foundations theory (Haidt & Graham, 2007) were investigated to expand the understanding of how social situations might influence moral judgments of unacceptable social behaviors. The researcher used an online survey, administered to 952 participants from the United States in order to address this. Results from the analyses of various 2 x 3 x 5 ANOVA models found a consistent significant main effect of group dynamic and a consistent significant interaction effect between group dynamic and the moral foundations. The effect of sociorelational context was significant within only one model. The influence of additional variables, including importance of political beliefs, religiosity, gender, age, native language, which region of the U.S. the individual lives in, and social sensitivity, are discussed. The results suggest that salient social relationships can and do influence individual judgments of morality.



Morality, Social groups, Moral foundations theory, Relationship regulation theory


Cowart, E. (2019). <i>Moral violations in groups: How group relationships regulate individual morality</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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