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Vauclair, Christin-Melanie; Fischer, Ronald; Ferreira, Maria Cristina; Guerra, Valeschka; Hößler, Ulrich; Karabati, Serdar; de Carvalho Filho, Moises Kirk; Porto, Juliana B.; Lopez Reyes, Melissa; Rytkönen, Jenni; Spieß, Erika (2014): What Kinds of Value Motives Guide People in Their Moral Attitudes? The Role of Personal and Prescriptive Values at the Culture Level and Individual Level. In: Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Vol. 46, No. 2: pp. 211-228


Opinions about moralized issues are arguably one of the most difficult issues in interpersonal dialogues given that they can result in intolerance and prejudicial behavior toward those with divergent moral beliefs. Recent research has shown that moral attitudes vary not only depending on the individual’s characteristics but also as a function of culture. Individuals from individualistic-oriented cultures exhibit more lenient judgments toward moralized issues than those from collectivistic-oriented cultures. What is unclear to date is what kinds of cultural value motives underlie these attitudes—Are they driven only by intrinsic value motives (personal values) or also by extrinsic value motives (prescriptive values in the form of societal expectations about what should be valued)? The cultural press to conform is arguably stronger if moral attitudes are predicted by the latter. Participants from eight countries (N = 1,456) responded to a questionnaire containing a modified version of the Schwartz Value Survey assessing personal and prescriptive values. The results showed that personal value ratings of openness-to-change versus conservation at the culture and individual levels were predictive of individuals’ moral attitudes consistent with previous findings. Prescriptive value ratings of openness-to-change versus conservation also predicted individuals’ moral attitudes, but only at the aggregated culture level. This suggests that the prescriptive values concept is a truly group-level phenomenon and that attitudes toward moralized issues are guided by cultural values with normative qualities. We discuss the implications for intercultural contact situations.