Recently, the topic came up of whether values profiles (and Moral Foundation Scores more specifically) predict behavior. On the one hand, social and contextual factors often loom larger than individual factors in determining moral behavior. On the other hand, it seemed rather unlikely that something as central as a persons values would not predict their behavior. While the effects may be small and indirect in many cases, I would expect a person’s value profile to predict almost everything they do in life. As a test case, I decided to examine whether moral foundation scores, which measure how much a person cares about harming others, fairness, obeying authority, being loyal, and being pure, in the context of moral judgments, predict whether a visitor to YourMorals.org visited using a Mac vs. a PC. Below is the graph.
While all visitors to YourMorals.org are generally liberal, it looks as if Windows users are more conservative than Mac users, within this group. Note that while this isn’t a representative sample, in some ways it is better for answering this question as the users in this sample have such similar characteristics that many variables are naturally controlled for. Windows users appear to value harm less and purity more.
The take home message for me is that while context certainly matters, so to does a person’s values, even for relatively unrelated decisions, such as which computer to use in daily life.
- Ravi Iyer