Social (not fiscal) conservatism predicts deontological ethics

Eugene Y. Chan

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Prior research has reported that political conservatives rely on a deontological approach to resolving moral dilemmas by favoring moral rules and moral edicts rather than expressing a willingness to sacrifice one life in order to save multiple others. In the current research, we sought to firstly demonstrate the underlying process and secondly to clarify the exact nature of the link between political ideology and deontological ethics. In Study 1, political conservatism predicted deontological judgments because of greater intuition. That is, conservatives think rather intuitively, and intuitive thinking is one antecedent to deontological judgments when resolving moral dilemmas. Following, in Study 2, we demonstrate that only social—not fiscal—conservatism predicts intuition and thus deontological ethics. Accordingly, we tease apart the typical left-right measure of political ideology into its two key aspects and argue that only the social but not fiscal dimensions predicts intuition and deontological ethics. We are not the first authors to suggest the existence of a link between political conservatism and moral processing, but we are the first to suggest an explanation and the first to clarify which aspect of conservatism is associated with deontological ethics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102867
Number of pages7
JournalActa Psychologica
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • Deontological ethics
  • Intuition
  • Moral processing
  • Political conservatism

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