Project Information

Kurt Lewin Instituut
Heidelberglaan 1
Room Number H1.42
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)30 - 253 3027

Project Information

Project Title
"The psychological science of moral persuasion in politics: testing an integrative model of how moral emotions influence short-term political persuasion and long-term issue moralization"

Rijksuniversiteit Groningen - Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences

PhD Student
Martijn Blikmans

Dr. Kai Epstude Co-promotor
Dr. Nour Kteily External co-supervisor

1 September 2017 - 31 August 2021



In my research project, I investigate the persuasive and moralizing effects of moral political rhetoric. Following the social intuitionism perspective, I investigate how the communication of moral emotions such as anger and disgust interacts with assertions of the immoral nature of certain political issues, and examine how voters’ emotional experience and moral beliefs regarding these discussed issues are impacted. These changed emotional experiences and beliefs are the basis of two lines of research, one focused on the short-term and one focused on the long-term. The short-term research line focuses on persuasion, investigating how changed (moral) perceptions of particular political issues interact with perceptions of the politician or party employing the rhetoric. Specifically, I look at how these moral perceptions of the issue may make the politician or party appear to be more moral than those not employing such rhetoric, which may ultimately lead to increased support. The long-term research line focuses on moralization and investigates how repeated exposure to moral political rhetoric may feed into a self-sustaining “moralization-harm” cycle, which decontextualizes newly formed moral perceptions and leads to sustained changes in the perceived right and wrong of the political issue. 

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