Moral foundations theory and the psychology of charitable giving
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Description: Moral foundations theory proposes that intuitions about what is morally right or wrong rest upon at least five universal foundations. Despite generating a recent upsurge of research, a crucial issue has remained unsettled: Do the posited moral foundations have real-world moral consequences? We show that they are predictably associated with a major type of moral behavior. Stronger individualizing intuitions (fairness and harm prevention) and weaker binding intuitions (loyalty, authority, and sanctity) were associated with the willingness to comply with a donation request and with the amount of self-reported donations to charity organizations. Individualizing intuitions predicted the allocation of donations to causes that benefit outgroups, whereas binding intuitions predicted the allocation of donations to causes that benefit the ingroup. These effects held up across behavioral and self-report measures and multiple controls (demographics, religiosity, and less consistently political ideology) and were mediated by personal concern for helping outgroup and ingroup victims respectively.