Moral Foundations, Political Orientation and Religiosity In Italy

Silvia Di Battista*, Monica Pivetti, Chiara Berti
Department of Psychological, Health and Territorial Sciences, University - Chieti-Pescara, Chieti Scalo, Italy

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© 2018 Di Battista et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Psychological, Health and Territorial Sciences, University - Chieti-Pescara, Silvia Di Battista, via dei Vestini 31, 66100, Chieti Scalo, Italy; Tel: +390871.3556595; E-mail:



This study investigates the role of political orientation and religiosity in Italy for moral foundations endorsement, in light of Haidt and Graham’s Moral Foundations Theory. This theory hypothesizes that moral systems are based on five dimensions (i.e., Harm/care, Fairness/reciprocity, Ingroup/loyalty, Authority/respect, and Purity/sanctity) that, in turn, can be grouped into two broader dimensions (Binding and Individualizing).


We aim to explore and extend the moral foundation assumptions to the Italian context predicting greater endorsement of binding values among Italian Right-wingers as compared with Left-wingers. Given that the relations between politics and Catholic Church have always been intertwined in modern Italy, we also extend this line of inquiry by examining the role of religiosity.


Two hundred and forty-eight Italian participants filled out a self-report measure including the Moral Foundations Questionnaires. Results: Individuals attach considerable relevance to individualizing moral foundations rather than to binding moral foundations; conservatives and regular religious attenders attach more relevance to binding moral foundations as compared with individuals with a Left-wing political orientation and less religious people.


Our results show that the Italians’ political orientation emerges as a significant element in the differential adoption of moral foundations. Furthermore, considering the historical and fundamental role of the Catholic religion in the Italian society and political life, our results confirm that binding values are particularly valued in groups such as practicing Catholic, where institutions, families, and authorities are valued.

Keywords: Moral Foundations Theory, Morality, Political orientation, Left and Right, Religiosity, Religious attendance.