US Politicians Use Moral Language More Often When They Have Less Power

Whatever your political affiliation, making appeals to people’s morality can be a powerful rhetorical tool. Politicians frequently use language that refers to moral principles of harm, fairness, loyalty, authority and purity, in order to defend policy positions, appeal to new voters and appease old ones. And it’s an approach that seems to work. Research suggests that people are far more likely to take action once they connect a particular issue with their own moral or ethical convictions — even to the point of committing acts of violence.

But how and when politicians use moral language shifts with changes in the political landscape. Looking at the language used by Democrat and Republican politicians in the US, researchers have found that moral language increased as political power decreased, suggesting that its use is not fixed. Continue reading →

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