A righteous protector of the right people: Understanding moral rhetoric and its persuasive effects on garnering political support from a social intuitionism perspective

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


In two experimental studies in the context of the debate on the privatization of the UK’s National Health Service, we examined the art and science of moral persuasion in politics. Specifically, this research examines the applicability of the social intuitionist perspective on morality for understanding how moral rhetoric can aid political persuasion through communicating anger and shared moral concerns. In Study 1, we examined the effects of moral (versus economic) arguments on experienced emotions, moral perceptions of the issue and the politician, and intentions to support the Labour Party. In Study 2, we examined the effects of anger-eliciting (versus calm-eliciting) communication and emphasized the social sharedness (versus non-sharedness) of moral concerns on the same dependent variables. The usefulness of appeals to morality was confirmed, as the perception of the issue as immoral directly and indirectly — via the perception of the politician as moral — predicted intentions to support the Labour Party. However, the question of how to frame such appeals specifically remained unanswered, as no effects for the use of moral arguments on moral perceptions were found, and even negative effects were found for anger-eliciting communication on both types of moral perception and support intentions. We discuss the implications of these findings for the art and science of moral persuasion in politics and provide suggestions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14-Dec-2017
EventASPO Conference - VU Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 14-Dec-201715-Dec-2017


ConferenceASPO Conference

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