Moral foundations theory (MFT) posits that binding moral foundations (purity, authority, and ingroup loyalty) are rooted in the need for groups to promote order and cohesion, and that they therefore underlie political conservatism. We present evidence that binding foundations (and the related construct of disgust sensitivity) are associated with lower levels of ideological polarization on political issues outside the domain of moral traditionalism. Consistent support for this hypothesis was obtained from three large American Internet-based samples and one large national sample of New Zealanders (combined N = 7,874). We suggest that when political issues do not have inherent relevance to moral traditionalism, binding foundations promote a small centrist shift away from ideologically prescribed positions, and that they do so out of desire for national uniformity and cohesion.
Published in Volume 42, Issue 9, pages 1243–1257