Economic Issues Are Moral Issues: The Moral Underpinnings of the Desire to Reduce Wealth Inequality

Andrew S. Franks, Kyle C. Scherr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Economic inequality is a pervasive and growing source of social problems such as poor health, crime, psychological disorders, and lack of trust in others. U.S. citizens across the political spectrum both underperceive the extent of economic inequality and would prefer to live in a society with much less inequality than both exist in reality and in their subjective estimations. Across multiple studies, we examined the ability of “moral foundations” to predict people’s desire to reduce economic inequality (while also replicating research showing widespread desire for a more equal society). Moral foundations endorsements consistently predicted desire to reduce inequality even when controlling for other relevant factors (e.g., political orientation). In addition, requests for donations to an organization focused on reducing economic inequality were able to elicit more money when the requests largely appealed to the type of moral foundations endorsed by participants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-562
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • morality
  • political psychology
  • social justice


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