Moral foundations and cognitive ability: Results from a Japanese sample

Tetsuya Kawamoto, Takahiro Mieda, Atsushi Oshio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Research has indicated that human morality is associated with cognitive ability. However, morality is not a unified concept but rather is a multi-faceted concept. Moral Foundation Theory suggests that human beings have at least five innate moral foundations: Care/Injury, Fairness/Deception, Loyalty/Betrayal, Authority/Subversion, and Sacred/Fallen. The present study aimed to investigate the associations between these moral values and cognitive ability. A large-scale cross-sectional survey was conducted online, which was completed by a total of 4863 Japanese adults (2922 females, 1935 males, and 6 “other;” Mage = 48.78, SDage = 10.93, range 20–70). Correlation and multiple regression analyses revealed that cognitive ability was positively linked to Care/Injury, Fairness/Deception, and Sacred/Fallen. Notably, the positive associations of cognitive ability with Loyalty/Betrayal and Authority/Subversion were statistically significant only for people below the age of approximately 50. These findings indicate that although moral foundations are based on emotions and intuitions, they are substantially associated with cognitive ability. In addition, the positive direction of associations of cognitive ability with Loyalty/Betrayal and Authority/Subversion was inconsistent with previous findings in Western countries, which suggests that these associations are culture-dependent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-36
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Volume149
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Oct 15

Keywords

  • Age
  • Cognitive ability
  • Japanese
  • Moral decision-making
  • Moral foundation
  • Syllogism-solving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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