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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01kd17cw25p
Title: The Moral Judgment of Political Actors
Authors: Oliphant, John Baxter
Advisors: Mendelberg, Tali
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: affect
elections
emotion
morals
voting
Subjects: Political science
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines how citizens form moral judgments of presidential candidates and how these judgments affect voting. Recent work connecting morality with political behavior over-emphasizes the impact of issues and largely ignores actors. I argue that moral judgments of actors help voters determine which candidate they should support and complements the impact of moral issues. Moral judgments mediate between political predispositions and behavior. Moral traits are important because they are based on moral emotions that have unique elicitors and consequences. Moral emotions emerge when the self is not involved and motivate behavior loyal to the in-group. The first empirical analysis verifies that moral judgments are built on moral emotions. Negative moral judgments of out-party leaders make citizens feel aversion rather than anxiety, and aversion has important implications that motivate support for the more moral candidate. Moral judgments form through an on-line model of information processing. Political predispositions such as party identification and ideology activate moral emotions, shaping moral judgments. These connections with predispositions are typically forgotten, leaving longer-lasting moral judgments that affect voting. A survey experiment shows that negative moral judgments of actors have a larger effect on vote choice than incompetence. Individuals primed to believe that a hypothetical out-party president is immoral are significantly more likely to vote against that president. They are also more likely to support down-ballot candidates who oppose the immoral president and are less open to compromise. Observational evidence from the 1984 to 2012 American National Election Studies and the 2008 National Annenberg Election Study panel support the experimental evidence. Voters who are ambivalent about the candidates' moral character or favor the out-partisan's are significantly less loyal at the ballot box. This effect is often significantly stronger than the effect of judgments of competence and issue attitudes. A conjoint experiment tests which moral judgments matter the most. The findings reveal that partisanship does not overwhelm the impact of moral character traits. Individuals care about moral character broadly when choosing a candidate to support; they do not simply choose the candidate who shares their party identification.
URI: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01kd17cw25p
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog: http://catalog.princeton.edu/
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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