Moral and Political Attitudes
This article deals with the topic titled ‘Moral and Political Attitude.’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.
Part 1: Political Attitudes
Political Attitude and Ideologies
In Political Attitudes, the attitude object is a political party, political person or political ideology. It defines your likes or dislikes for a political person, party or ideology.
Types of Political Ideologies
- They want to go to previous systems and can be ranked one step behind conservatives (who just want the status quo).
- Eg: Taliban and ISIS.
- They demand Status-quo.
- Reason: Their interests are tied to the system.
3. Liberal / Moderate
- Liberals are proponents of liberty, equality and democracy.
- Unlike Conservatives, they do want reforms in the system but not using violent methods but gradually through legal means.
4. Radicals / Extremists
- They want immediate reforms and can even adopt violent means.
- Eg: Communists who want to confiscate private property and are even ready to use violent means for that.
Personality Traits and their impact on Political Attitude
1 . Agreeable-ness
- A person with a high level of agreeableness is friendly and tactful. They have an optimistic view of human nature
- A person who scores low on agreeableness put their interests above others. They are distant, unfriendly & uncooperative.
- Eg: When Modi Govt requested well offs to give off their LPG Subsidy arguing that they will use the same money to provide LPG to the poor, those who were agreeable left it but certain people who scored low on agreeableness questioned the intention and asked first MPs should give up their canteen subsidy and then ask for this.
2. Openness to experience
- Those who are open to experience enjoy trying new things
- Modi promised Acche Din
- AAP: Many people in Delhi gave chance to them because they were open to experience
- Those who are not ready for experience are Conservative & enjoy having a routine. In the UK, supporters of the Conservative Party.
3. Emotional Stability
- Emotional Stability is a measure of how well a person can control his/her emotions
- Those who rank high are calm, resilient & poised.
- They don’t get swayed by incidents like riots or intolerance.
- They cant be easily moulded by media.
4. Emotional Stability
- Extrovert: People who speak a lot, are easily sociable & get energised by social interaction.
- Introvert: People who are reserved, tentative and drained by social interaction.
Those who score high in extroversion are the life of the party.
- Religion impacts political attitudes as
- Devout Christians in the USA vote in favour of Republicans because they are against Homosexual Marriages.
- Devout Hindus vote in favour of the BJP because they talk about protecting the Hindu religion.
- “Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is” – Gandhi
- Young people generally vote in favour of parties that favour change as they will reap the benefits of those changes.
- On the other hand, old age people generally vote in favour of parties calling for a Status Quo.
7. Economic Status
- Poor vote in favour of Socialist and Communist parties calling for wealth redistribution.
- Rich vote in favour of right-wing parties which talk about lower tax rates and protection of property right.
- If a person is unemployed, he will align with parties like MNS who promise Son of the Soil Policies.
- The political ideology of parents is generally copied by Children.
- Females favour Liberal ideology and those who talk about the emancipation of women.
- School curriculum and lessons taught in school plays important role in the formation of political attitudes.
- The Soviet Union and Maoist China’s education used to glorify the teachings of Marx.
12. Conception about human nature
Nature of human beings in general perceived by the person has an important role to play in the formation of Political Attitude
- Hobbes Philosophy: It is of the opinion that” Person is fundamentally evil“. Advocates of such philosophy will have a political attitude favouring a strong state which can keep the evils of humans in check
- Locke’s Philosophy: ” Man is a good rational person. “Advocates of such philosophy will have a political attitude favouring weak state with more rights and freedom guaranteed to its citizens.
13. Social media
Media and social media can be used to mould political attitudes. Eg : 2014 & 2019 elections.
- Greater Outreach: Social media allows politicians and political parties to connect directly with people at a reduced cost.
- It allows ‘two-way communication’ and leaders can take real-time feedback from common people.
- Campaign management as political parties come to know about the demographics, economic and social status of the followers and manage the image of candidate with tailored messages for a particular segment.
- Election Commission uses social media campaigns to encourage citizens to cast a vote.
- It is used by NGOs like ADR to increase transparency.
- It leads to the polarisation of votes.
- Playing with Psychology as was done by Cambridge Analytica.
- Dissemination of misinformation at lightening speed leading to events such as the mass exodus of north-easterners from Bengaluru.
Overall political attitude will be formed not by just one component but by the combination of all these factors.
Case Study: Cambridge Analytica
- Cambridge Analytica created a psychological profile of Facebook users using their likes and dislikes on Facebook.
- Advertisements were targeted according to psychological profiles. For example, someone who was judged to be an extrovert would see a different version of an advertisement than someone who was judged to be an introvert.
- Attitude is the enduring predisposition to behave, either favourably or unfavourably, towards something. But not all attitudes are concerned with the question of morality. Moral Attitudes are those attitudes where the question of morality (i.e. Judgement of being right or wrong) is involved.
- For example, A person may have a favourable attitude towards transacting in cash rather than electronically. There is nothing moral or immoral about it. However, if his motive to transact in cash arises from his desire to hide his income from the government, then it has a moral connotation.
How are moral attitudes shaped?
Moral Attitudes are made up of the same three elements i.e.
- Cognitive: It is the knowledge of ethical rules and judgments of what is good and what is bad.
- Affective: It involves the person’s feelings and conduct in reaction to situations that need moral and ethical decisions.
- Behavioural: It is the person’s actual behaviour, his response to situations involving ethical considerations.
Important points about Moral Attitudes
- Moral Attitudes are made up of amoral attitudes that are strongly influenced by society and culture. Religious beliefs, traditions, folklore, myths, legends – all have an implicit messaging in them- about what is good and what is bad. As such, they shape the moral attitudes of people.
- Moral attitudes vary over time and space. For example, people had a positive moral attitude wrt Sati during Medieval times. Similarly, they can also vary with gender. Men, for instance, may have a less negative attitude towards bribery than women.
- Moral attitudes can be both facilitative and prohibitive. They facilitate actions such as helping someone in need (altruism), social service, etc. Also, actions that are considered immoral are discouraged such as adultery, stalking, cheating, etc.