Dogmatism and moral conviction in individuals: injustice for all

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Swink, Nathan
Meissen, Gregory J.

Scientific study of dogmatism began over fifty years ago with the establishment of the first scale and its criterion related validity. Now measured by a more psychometrically sound scale dogmatism has been linked to intolerance, egocentrism, and an unwillingness or inability to understand opposing viewpoints. Moral conviction derives from a separate literature base, but like dogmatism, has been linked to intolerance. The combination of high-dogmatism and high-moral conviction could have a profound effect on decision making related to social justice, thereby impacting others. An on-line survey measured whether participants would vote yes or no for gay marriage in Kansas and yes or no for the mandated teaching of creationism in public schools, and provided scales for moral conviction and dogmatism. It was hypothesized that dogmatism, moral conviction, and consideration of the opposition viewpoint would discriminate voting on both issues. Support for both hypotheses was found in two significant discriminant functional analyses. For both issues participants scoring higher in measures of dogmatism and moral conviction also gave less consideration to the opposition view in deciding how to vote. Present research offered support for a relationship between dogmatism and religiosity and established correlations between moral conviction and dogmatism. If people who are particularly dogmatic and also think a given issue is moral are less likely to consider other viewpoints even in decisions that would impact those others, implications for justice are dire. Future research may aim at ensuring more tolerance in lawmaking through interventions aimed at educating around moral issues or reducing dogmatism among those highest in dogmatism.

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Thesis (Ph.D.)--Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of Psychology