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      College and the “Culture War”: Assessing Higher Education’s Influence on Moral Attitudes

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          Abstract

          Moral differences contribute to social and political conflicts. Against this backdrop, colleges and universities have been criticized for promoting liberal moral attitudes. However, direct evidence for these claims is sparse, and suggestive evidence from studies of political attitudes is inconclusive. Using four waves of data from the National Study of Youth and Religion, we examine the effects of higher education on attitudes related to three dimensions of morality that have been identified as central to conflict: moral relativism, concern for others, and concern for social order. Our results indicate that higher education liberalizes moral concerns for most students, but it also departs from the standard liberal profile by promoting moral absolutism rather than relativism. These effects are strongest for individuals majoring in the humanities, arts, or social sciences, and for students pursuing graduate studies. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of our results for work on political conflict and moral socialization.

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          Liberals and conservatives rely on different sets of moral foundations.

          How and why do moral judgments vary across the political spectrum? To test moral foundations theory (J. Haidt & J. Graham, 2007; J. Haidt & C. Joseph, 2004), the authors developed several ways to measure people's use of 5 sets of moral intuitions: Harm/care, Fairness/reciprocity, Ingroup/loyalty, Authority/respect, and Purity/sanctity. Across 4 studies using multiple methods, liberals consistently showed greater endorsement and use of the Harm/care and Fairness/reciprocity foundations compared to the other 3 foundations, whereas conservatives endorsed and used the 5 foundations more equally. This difference was observed in abstract assessments of the moral relevance of foundation-related concerns such as violence or loyalty (Study 1), moral judgments of statements and scenarios (Study 2), "sacredness" reactions to taboo trade-offs (Study 3), and use of foundation-related words in the moral texts of religious sermons (Study 4). These findings help to illuminate the nature and intractability of moral disagreements in the American "culture war." Copyright (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved.
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            The Origins and Consequences of Affective Polarization in the United States

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              Political conservatism as motivated social cognition.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Am Sociol Rev
                Am Sociol Rev
                ASR
                spasr
                American Sociological Review
                SAGE Publications (Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA )
                0003-1224
                1939-8271
                18 September 2021
                October 2021
                : 86
                : 5
                : 856-895
                Affiliations
                [a ]University of Toronto
                Author notes
                [*]Miloš Broćić, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto, 725 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, ON M5S 2J4, Canada Email: milos.brocic@ 123456utoronto.ca
                Author information
                https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8790-5034
                https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4288-373X
                Article
                10.1177_00031224211041094
                10.1177/00031224211041094
                8493328
                34629474
                8781b336-8ab2-43f9-8b13-556b004903d6
                © American Sociological Association 2021

                This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages ( https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

                History
                Funding
                Funded by: social sciences and humanities research council of canada, FundRef https://doi.org/10.13039/501100000155;
                Award ID: 208364
                Categories
                Articles
                Custom metadata
                ts1

                moral attitudes,higher education,culture war,socialization,political sociology

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