Moral Foundations and Voting Intention in Italy

Patrizia Milesi


Based on the view of morality proposed by the Moral Foundations Theory, this paper investigates whether voting intention is associated with moral foundation endorsement in not perfectly bipolar electoral contexts. Three studies carried out in Italy from 2010 to 2013, showed that controlling for ideological orientation, moral foundation endorsement is associated with voting intention. In Study 1 and 3, in fictitious and real national elections, intention to vote for right-wing political groups rather than for left-wing rivals was associated with Sanctity, confirming previous results obtained in the U.S. Furthermore, as a function of the specific competing political groups in each of the examined contexts other moral foundations predicted voting intention. In Study 1, Care and Authority predicted voting intention for the major political groups rather than for an autonomist party that aimed at decreasing central government’s fiscal power in favor of fiscal regional autonomy. In Study 3, Loyalty predicted the intention to vote for the major parliamentarian parties rather than for a movement that aimed at capturing disaffection towards traditional politics. In Study 2, at real regional elections, Loyalty predicted voting intention for the incumbent right-wing governor rather than for the challengers and Fairness predicted voting intention for left-wing extra-parliamentarian political groups rather than for the major left-wing party. Thus multiple moral concerns can be associated with voting intention. In fragmented and unstable electoral contexts, at each election the context of the competing political groups may elicit specific moral concerns that can contribute to affect voting intention beyond ideological orientation.


moral foundations; vote; ideological orientation; morality; politics

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