Covid-19 and mask wearing support: using a moral psychological framework to influence persuasion

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Trentadue, Joseph T.
Luttrell, Andrew
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Thesis (B.?)
Honors College
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Moral Foundations Theory proposes that there are five moral frameworks through which individuals view their world from: care/harm principles, fairness/cheating principles, loyalty/betrayal principles, sanctity/degradation principles, and authority/subversion principles. Research has shown that liberals are more likely to both endorse and utilize moral arguments that are based on the principles of care/harm and fairness/cheating, whereas conservatives are more likely to endorse and utilize moral arguments that are based on the remaining three principles. The current study analyzed the impact that moral framing could have on individuals who selfidentified as either liberal or conservative in relation to mask-wearing and the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire assessing perceptions of COVID- 19 regarding individual concern and perceived threat of the virus. Participants were then asked to complete the right-wing authoritarianism scale as well as the social dominance orientation scale to assess participant’s leanings. Participants were then shown one of three messages regarding COVID-19, framed in either a harm avoidance and fairness moral framework or purity and ingroup loyalty moral framework. Participant’s level of persuasion was then assessed, by assessing how often participants intend to wear a mask and how likely participants would be to support a national mask mandate. Results of this study will contribute to previous research that shows moral framing of statements can influence persuasion among a population that might not be likely to support it.