[Cross posted from RighteousMind.com]
I just found a wonderful tool at CapitolWords.org which shows you the frequency with which any word is used in the congressional record since 1996. (Hat tip to Emily Ekins.) You can see which party uses each word more often, and which Senators and Representatives use the word most often. It offers a quick check on the claims I made in The Righteous Mind about how the Left owns Care and Fairness (as Equality), whereas the Right owns the rest of the moral foundations. I’m ignoring the line graphs plotting changes over time (there are hardly any) and I’ll just present the overall pie charts here:
1) THE CARE FOUNDATION
Conclusion: yes, Dems use these words more often.
2) THE FAIRNESS FOUNDATION
Conclusion: Yes, Dems use these words more, especially “equality.” The words “proportionality” and “equity” rarely occur; there’s no clear word to get at fairness-as-proportionality, which I claim is a concept more valued on the right.
3) THE LIBERTY FOUNDATION
Conclusion: Yes, Republicans use these words more. It’s a sign of trouble for the liberal party when liberalism forfeits the word liberty.
4) THE LOYALTY FOUNDATION
Conclusion: No, contrary to my prediction, Democrats use the words loyalty and patriotism slightly more often than do Republicans.
5) The Authority/subversion Foundation
Conclusion: No difference on “authority” (which has a great many non-moral uses in a legal and legislative context) but yes on “obedience.”
6) The Sanctity/Degradation Foundation:
Conclusion: Republicans use these words much more often.
Overall conclusion: This crude measure offers some support for the portrait I painted in chapters 7 and 8 of Righteous Mind: Democrats own the central words of the Care and Fairness foundations, Republicans own the central words of the Liberty and Sanctity foundations. Republicans used one of the two central words of the Authority foundation more than did Democrats, and contrary to my predictions, Democrats used two of the central words of the Loyalty foundations slightly more than did Republicans.
Of course, all of these words are used in many ways, and the next step would be to examine word usage in context. Are Democrats really using the word “authority” in ways that show that they deeply respect authority? For example, the most recent uses in the congressional record on the day I did this analysis are Democrats talking about “a leading authority of Islamic culture” and “Congress has delegated much authority to the D.C. government…” These uses shouldn’t really count. When Jesse Graham, Brian Nosek and I last did a linguistic analysis of church sermons, we found a similar picture: most of our predictions were supported by raw word counts. But once we analyzed words in context and only counted the cases that truly endorsed a foundation, then all predictions were supported.