Exploring the Relationship between Morality and Offending Through the Use of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire

Rachael Thompson, Andrew Newton, Carla Reeves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study applies the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (MFQ) to examine the relationship between morality and self-reported offending, captured using a questionnaire (N= 184). One hundred and forty-one respondents (77%) reported previously committing an offence. Identified measures of morality revealed no statistically significant differences between self-reported offenders and non-offenders, challenging commonly held presumptions that offending is associated with lower levels of morality. Moreover, this pattern was consistent across a range of offence types and offence severities. Using the MFQ, morality was broken down by individual MFQ foundations (sub-domains). A consistent although non-significant pattern emerged: scores for the in-group/loyalty, authority/respect and purity/sanctity foundations were lower than the harm/care and fairness/reciprocity foundations for all respondents. This highlights the importance of future research into morality and offending moving beyond the use of single metric measures of morality, and deconstructing this further into sub-domain measures, such as those offered by the MFQ.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalCrime Prevention and Community Safety
Early online date13 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Sep 2021

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