How to translate the MFQ

January 1st, 2010 by Jonathan Haidt

Thank you for your interest in translating the Moral Foundations Questionnaire into your language. Here is some advice on how to do it well to produce a useful and reliable instrument.

1. Translating individual words for abstract concepts is difficult. Each word may have many shades of meaning, and the shades often differ across languages. We recommend that you first do some open-ended exploration of the key terms that will play a role in your translation. For example, “right,” “wrong,” “respect” “authority,” and “purity.” Also, some items may have a different meaning due to your local or national context. For example, being proud of your country’s history may have a very different meaning in countries with morally troubled histories.

2. Don’t just translate — explore! Investigate your local moral domain. Are there any common moral concerns in your country that are not well-represented by our current list of five moral foundations? Are there any unique local virtues or moral concepts? This is an excellent time for you to think about flaws or gaps in moral foundations theory, or for you to investigate the unique ways in which your society has constructed virtues and values on top of the universally available moral foundations. (Please see below for a suggested questionnaire you can use to explore the moral domain in your language.)

3. Once you have collected some open ended data and noted some potential problem areas, you can create your translation. We urge you to check your translation with at least three other bilingual speakers. Words often have slightly different connotations to different people; the odds are that there will be a few words of phrases that others would render differently. Try to work out differences by consensus.

4. Once you have a verified translation, you should ask another bilingual speaker to create a back-translation — to translate your version back into English. Please examine the back-translation to be sure that it is equivalent in meaning to the original MFQ. If it is not, then see if adjustments are needed. When you have a successful back-translation, please send it to us, along with your translation of the MFQ.

5. We’ll post your translation at MoralFoundations.org, and we’ll give you credit for it. But please note that we might modify it in the future, based on feedback from other speakers of your language. Please don’t be offended: MFT is a collaborative enterprise, and we think the research gets better when all parts are exposed to constant critique. Our view is that nobody owns the translation itself — it is given for free to the research community. (Certainly, nobody should make any kind of financial profit from it.) However, we hope that you, as the initial translator, will get some research and publication benefits from it. If you conduct research in your country, we’d be glad to help you turn that research into a manuscript by providing our data from many other countries for comparison, so that you can examine mean differences, and differences in internal structure via factor analysis. You might also consider setting up a web-based data collection site, either at YourMorals.org or on your own site. We can help you with that, just contact us.

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Recommended open-ended items, to explore the moral domain and moral vocabulary before beginning your translation. Please translate these questions, add your own, and create a questionnaire. Try to give it out to at least 20 native speakers, from different social classes and sub-cultural or regional backgrounds

1. In _______ [your country], what are the main words used to talk about good and bad actions, or good and bad people? What kinds of words are used in gossip, to praise or condemn people?

2. Think about how morality in ______is different from what you know of the United States. What virtues or values do you think are more important in ______? Which ones are more important in the USA?

3. What are the virtues or values that you most want your children to have?

4. What is the last especially “morally bad” thing that someone you know did?

5. What is the last especially “morally good” thing that someone you know did?

6. When you think about the following words, what other words come to mind as synonyms? What ideas or events come to mind, if any?
a. right
b. wrong
c. suffer
d. respect for authority
e. purity
f. betray
g. traditions
h. disgusting
i. loyalty
j. compassion
k. virtue
l. morality
m. chastity

[Please add comments if you can think of ways to improve the translation process, or the exploratory questionnaire!]

Posted in yourmorals.org18 Comments »
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18 Responses to “How to translate the MFQ”

  1. Ramon Gebhard says:

    Dear Sir or Madamme,

    do you have a German Version of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire. If so, I would kindly ask you for permission to use it for a university project of mine.

    With kind regards,
    Ramon Gebhard

  2. Jesse Graham says:

    Hi Ramon, you can find a German translation here: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=thhbxnghNhXDALVFwFAB3Eg&output=html&widget=true (click on German at the bottom of the page to open that sheet). Please feel free to use it in your research, and if you have suggestions for improvement please let us know. Thanks for your interest!
    Jesse

  3. Bhumesh says:

    Dear Sis/Ma’am

    Is this test limited under some regional or cultural space or valid for all.

    Regards
    Bhumesh

  4. Ravi Iyer says:

    That’s somewhat of an open question. Research has been done in many countries that works, but certainly not in all countries. If you email Jesse directly, he might know more about this.

  5. LeeAnn says:

    Hi! :) Ok, a translation is one thing… and factor analysis is another. I mean, all this statistical validity. What about this?

  6. LeeAnn says:

    Hi, @ll!
    Ok, so I have a Polish translation, but what bothers me is … what about statistical validity? Because a translation is one thing, and factor analysis is another. I wanted to use a questionnaire in my research… help :)

  7. Vatsala Saxena says:

    Hi
    I am from India , and have translated the moral foundation questionnaire in Hindi . I wanted to upload it on your website , If you could help me with the procedure for doing so , it shall be great. I got confused seeing the template you have provided, it seems to already have a hindi translation . Does that mean you already have a hindi translation , and do not require any ?

  8. Anna Lena says:

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    We are looking for a Dutch translation of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire for our university research project. Although it is not listed on this website, we would like to know if you are aware of a translation elsewhere. Please let us know!

    Kind regards,

    Ayla, Nout and Anna Lena

  9. Jesse Graham says:

    Hi Anna, you can find the Dutch translation here: https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AvIo2znxWnxZdGhoYnhuZ2hOaFhEQUxWRndGQUIzRWc&gid=1 . Thanks for your interest!

    Jesse

  10. Bénédicte Ronfard says:

    Hello,
    I am looking for a french translation of the MFQ30 and would like your permission to use it in a project. It is listed on the website as an existing translation but i do not know how to access it. Thank you!

  11. Jesse Graham says:

    Hi Benedicte, the French translation can be found here: https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AvIo2znxWnxZdGhoYnhuZ2hOaFhEQUxWRndGQUIzRWc&gid=21 . Thanks for your interest, and good luck with your research!
    Jesse

  12. Sandra Gudino says:

    Good morning:
    We are Mexican social researchers and we would like to develop the Spanish translation of the instrument, as a representation of Latin American culture.
    You still do not have this translation?
    regarding the recommended items to explore the moral vocabulary before translation and applying to 20 cultural subgroups representatives must be adults or could be teenagers?

  13. Jesse Graham says:

    Hi Sandra, the Spanish and Spanish-Castillian translations can be found here: https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AvIo2znxWnxZdGhoYnhuZ2hOaFhEQUxWRndGQUIzRWc&gid=6 . The relevance section may be too complex/abstract for younger teens, but if they are high school age or older it should be okay (we don’t have strong data on which ages MFQ can work with). Thanks for your interest, and best of luck in your research!

    Jesse

  14. Daniel Collado says:

    Hello,
    I am from University of Extremadura (Spain). We have seen that you have a Spanish-Castilian translation of MFQ. However, this translation is not completed because some items are still “not translated”. We are interested in carry out the full translation and validation of MFQ to be used in college Spanish population. Do we need your permission? How do we have to ask for it?

    Thank you
    Daniel

  15. Jane Anderson says:

    G’day! Do you have an Australian version? Has the MFQ ever been used on male and/or female prison populations? As above, what permissions need to be accessed to use it?

  16. Muhammad Adeel says:

    Respected scholars,
    As part of my thesis, I’d like to pursue this scale of its adaptation to Urdu language in a Pakistani cultural context.
    The Urdu translation that you have provided on your website, if studies have been carried out regarding its paychometric assessment, then I’d be much obliged if you could provide me those.
    Otherwise, it would be an honor for me if I could get your permission to pursue its adaptation to the Urdu language as part of my thesis.

    Awaiting your reply.
    Thank you.

  17. please see moralfoundations.org
    you don’t need permission to use our materials.
    we have not made a special australian version.

  18. you may use whatever you find on our site.
    if you think that our urdu translation is not adequate, please contact jesse graham to tell him you’d like to create a new one and explain why.

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