Moral foundation priorities reflect U.S. Christians' individual differences in religiosity

Kathryn Johnson, Joshua N. Hook, Don E. Davis, Daryl R. Van Tongeren, Steven J. Sandage, Sarah A. Crabtree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The moral domains of loyalty, authority, and purity have been linked with both religion and conservatism in Moral Foundations Theory. Yet there are important individual differences in religiosity. We sought to provide a more nuanced understanding of the relations between religiosity, conservatism, and the moral foundations identified in MFT. Participants were 450 Christians who completed an online survey assessing outreaching faith, religious commitment, belief in an authoritarian God, Biblical literalism, and the prioritization of each of the five moral foundations. Conservatism and religious commitment were significant positive predictors of Loyalty. Controlling for conservatism and religious commitment, we found that Fairness was predicted by outreaching faith; Care was positively predicted by outreaching faith and negatively predicted by belief in an authoritarian God; Authority was predicted by literalism; and Purity was predicted by literalism and authoritarian God representations. Our results highlight the need to consider individual differences in religious beliefs in theorizing about moral foundations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-61
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Conservatism
  • God representations
  • Moral foundations theory
  • Religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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