Washington: Branding an opinion to be morally befitting makes it stronger and resilient to counter argument, says a new study.
Researchers found that people were more likely to act on an opinion – what psychologists call an attitude – if it was labeled as moral and were more resistant to attempts to change their mind.
The results show why appeals to morality by politicians and advocacy groups can be so effective, said Andrew Luttrell, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in psychology at The Ohio State University.
“The perception that an attitude we hold is based on morality is enough to strengthen it,” Luttrell said.
“For many people, morality implies universality, an ultimate truth. It is a conviction that is not easily changed,” he added.
The key finding was how easy it was to strengthen the people’s beliefs by using the ‘moral’ label, said Richard Petty, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State.
“Morality can act as a trigger – you can attach the label to nearly any belief and instantly make that belief stronger,” Petty said.
Other co-authors of the study were Pablo BriÃ±ol of the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in Spain and Benjamin Wagner of St. Thomas Aquinas College.
The results showed that “morality had a lot more impact than the values of tradition and equality”, Luttrell said.
Luttrell said the study highlighted that the people hold on to their moral beliefs in a way they didn’t for other values.
“But what was remarkable was how easy it was to lead people into thinking their views were based on moral principles,” he said.
The results suggest that appeals to morality can be very effective to groups and political candidates trying to appeal their supporters.
“People may be more willing to vote for a candidate or give money to an advocacy group if they believe it is a matter of morality. They’re also less likely to be swayed by the opposition,” Luttrell said.
This research has been published in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. (ANI)