In the midst of unprecedented partisan polarization in the voting public and congressional gridlock in Washington, research in moral psychology has implicated reliance on differing moral value foundations between liberals and conservatives as a determinant of partisan divides. While Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) research has highlighted the effect of moral values on a variety of issues, little research has explained their effect on psychological factors and voting behavior related to fiscal concerns. Guided by Betancourt’s integrative model for studying culture, psychological factors, and behavior, the present study investigated the extent to which socially shared moral value foundations influence psychological reactions to a politician’s support for a compromising balanced fiscal policy, and related voting intentions among Democrats and Republicans. Five hundred twenty-three Democratic (n = 300) and Republican (n = 223) participants were recruited using convenience and snowball sampling. As proposed, participants who endorsed socially binding moral values (e.g. authority, purity, and in-group loyalty) had stronger emotional and cognitive reactions to a politician’s support for a compromising balanced fiscal policy, which affected their intention to vote for that politician. This effect was indirect, through attribution-emotion processes, and moderated by party affiliation, such that reactions were negative for Republicans and positive for Democrats. Results suggest that moral values may lead voters to elect politicians who are farther from the political center, perpetuating gridlock.

LLU Discipline

Clinical Psychology




School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Betancourt, Hector

Second Advisor

Flynn, Patricia M.

Third Advisor

Hodges, Monica

Fourth Advisor

Morrell, Holly E. R.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Elections - United States - Psychological Aspects; Election forecasting - Moral and ethical aspects; Voting - United States - Psychological Aspects; Values - Political aspects

Subject - Local

Partisan polarization; Gridlock; Moral Foundations Theory; Compromise; Socially Binding Moral Values



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives