Ambiguity, religion, and relational context: Competing influences on moral attitudes?

Sociological Perspectives: Vol 54(1), Spr 2011, 59-81

By Markus H. Schafer

Abstract:  The position that people take on moral issues, such as infidelity, can be influenced by abstract principles (e.g., religious ideals) but also by their own relational experience. Conservative religious orientation provides clear moral prescripts about sexual behavior, but what happens when there is perceived strain within one’s actual, non-hypothetical relationship? The author tests a series of hypotheses about attitudes towards infidelity using a representative sample of American adults aged 57–85. The results indicate that although most older Americans oppose infidelity in general, distinct differences emerge when the infidelity scenario involves greater moral ambiguity. When dementia is involved, the relational context in which the respondent is embedded emerges as an important predictor variable. Interestingly, each religious group—even born-again Protestants—are susceptible to this moral contingency effect. Results are discussed in relation to Vaisey’s (2009) dual-process theory, in which attitudes are shaped by rational and relational factors alike.

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(Something interesting I found)Posted: Friday, August 5, 2011 by agomberg
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