Political ideology and moral perspectives on invasion, torture, and international law: a sociomoral ecological approach
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To increase understanding ofthe role of ideology in moral judgments related to war, torture, and violation of human rights agreements, this study implemented a sociomoral ecological approach integrating theoretical perspectives from Urie Bronfenbrenner and Albert Bandura. Bronfenbrenner has urged psychologists to consider the role of contextual factors at the level ofthe microsystem (e.g., family), exosystem (e.g., neighborhood), and macrosystem (culture) in influencing and being influenced by the developing individual. Bandura's (1999) theory of moral disengagement identifies sociomoral mechanisms through which individuals attempt to justify behaviors that violate their moral standards. In a secondary analysis of quantitative and qualitative responses from 557 respondents to an international survey, this study investigated the contribution of political ideology and contextual factors to: (a) level of agreement with hypothetical governmental rights to invade, torture, and violate international agreements; and (b) types of moral disengagement accompanying tolerance of. aggression. To predict tolerance for governmental aggression, multiple linear regressions were conducted with the following predictors: (a) political ideology (measured by political partisanship and total conservatism scores); (b) the microsystem, exosystem, and macrosystem contextual variables of participation in protest, participation in conflict resolution education, having a military relative, and nationality; and (c) the individual variables of gender, age, and education. In predicting agreement with governmental rights to aggression, total conservatism and conservative political partisanship contributed significantly and positively to higher agreement with governmental rights to aggression. Being from a communally-oriented country, being a protestor, being a woman, and being older significantly predicted lower agreement with those purported rights. Regarding total moral disengagement, total conservatism, greater political conservatism, higher educational level, and participation in a conflict resolution program were significantly associated with higher moral disengagement. By contrast, being from a communally-oriented culture, being a woman, being a protestor, and being older significantly predicted lower moral disengagement. These results confirm the role of political ideology in predicting individuals' moral reasoning regarding tolerance for governmental aggression. By confirming that contextual and individual predictors at multiple ecological levels contributed significantly to tolerance of governmental aggression, they also supported Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory ofhuman development.
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