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Group differences in broadness of values may drive dynamics of public opinion on moral issues

Kimmo Eriksson and Pontus Strimling

Mathematical Social Sciences, 2015, vol. 77, issue C, 1-8

Abstract: Here we propose the idea that the success of an argument in favor of an issue position should depend on whether the argument resonates with the audience’s values. Now consider two groups, one of which has a broader set of values than the other. We develop a mathematical model to investigate how this difference in broadness of values may drive a change on the population level towards positions in line with the more narrow set of values. The model is motivated by the empirical finding that conservative morality rests equally on moral foundations that are individualizing (harm and fairness) and binding (purity, authority, and ingroup), whereas liberal morality relies mainly on the individualizing moral foundations. The model then predicts that, under certain conditions, the whole population will tend to move towards positions on moral issues (e.g., same-sex marriage) that are supported by individualizing moral foundations.

Date: 2015
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DOI: 10.1016/j.mathsocsci.2015.06.004

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