Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 6-1-2021


This literature review thesis explores the evolutionary based theory of moral psychology called the Moral Foundations Theory and its innate processes that serve as factors in moral judgments regarding contemporary political issues. This thesis describes the theoretical foundations underlying the Moral Foundations approach, and then proceeds to review empirical sources on its general applicability. It then examines how the approach may be applied to political ideology, as well as the connection to the emotion of disgust. Next, the review continues to explore relations between pathogen and sexual disgust sensitivity and politics. The final section of the thesis body takes a close look at how moral foundations can be applied to climate and environmental issues. The studies reviewed also explored the impacts of framing different issues regarding the various foundations and how this may be a political tactic moving forward, further expressing the relevance of the Moral Foundations Theory. Future research should account for the wide range of political ideologies and broaden the knowledge on the cultural reach of the theory.


Winner of the 2021 Prindle Prize for Ethics in the Humanities