Applying moral foundations theory to understanding public views of sexual offending

Harper, Craig A. and Harris, Andrew J. (2017) Applying moral foundations theory to understanding public views of sexual offending. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 23 (2). pp. 111-123. ISSN 1355-2600

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Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


Much research has examined the views held by citizens about sexual offenders and related policy responses. Although studies have extensively examined demographic correlates of such views, little attention has been paid to psychological mechanisms that underpin them. Gaining a deeper understanding of such mechanisms may ultimately prove useful for informing communication strategies around the problem of sexual violence. We propose the application of moral foundations theory as a means of exploring the roots of the current punitive consensus around sexual crime policy at the macro level, as well as individual variability in attitudes about sexual violence. Following an overview of the sexual offender policy landscape, and a description of MFT principles, we outline how this framework can help to explain both convergence and divergence in responses to sexual offending among members of the public. We also provide a series of testable hypotheses to stimulate further research in this area.

Keywords:Moral foundations theory, Sexual offending, Social discourse, Political communication, Social policy
Subjects:L Social studies > L370 Social Theory
L Social studies > L400 Social Policy
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
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ID Code:27935
Deposited On:09 Aug 2017 09:44

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