Slow Life History Strategy Predicts Six Moral Foundations

EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium
Volume 9, Special Issue 2, 2017

Slow Life History Strategy Predicts Six Moral Foundations

Gladden, P. R., & Cleator, A. M.

Moral foundations (MF) theory proposes six evolved, universal psychological systems (“foundations”) on which cultures construct diverse moralities, while further proposing individual differences (e.g., political differences) in reliance on various moral foundations. Life History (LH) theory suggests that slow LH individuals develop under stable socio-ecological conditions where displaying moral traits and behavioral restraints on selfishness may have been particularly adaptive for delayed social benefits. Human LH theory has been used to help explain individual differences in various moral intuitions, but these findings have not been entirely consistent. Across 2 studies, samples of undergraduate students completed self-report questionnaires assessing their reliance on various moral foundations, their LH strategies, political attitudes, and early-life socioeconomic status. Psychometric measures of slow LH strategy were positively associated with each moral foundation, even after statistically controlling for respondent sex, social desirability, and early-life socioeconomic factors in study 2. The six moral foundations were positively intercorrelated. Neither self-perceived life expectancy nor self-reported age of first sexual intercourse predicted the moral foundations. These findings suggest that LH strategies (measured psychometrically) account for strength of moral foundations and the positive intercorrelations among the moral foundations.


How to cite this article:
Gladden, P. R., & Cleator, A. M. (2018). Slow life history strategy predicts six moral foundations. The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium9, Sp. Iss. (2), 43-63.