Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




This project examined the affective consequences of expressing moral convictions to an opposing majority. It was predicted that moral conviction would function as a buffer to the common negative emotions that occur when speaking out against majority opinion (e.g., fear; Asch, 1956; Berns, et al., 2005). It was also hypothesized that moral conviction would enhance positive feelings among those who speak out (e.g., pride). Two studies were conducting using two different research paradigms. Study 1 used a normative influence paradigm modeled after Hornsey, Smith, and Begg (2007). Participants' opinions and strength of moral conviction about the target issue (torture of suspected terrorists) were assessed. Participants, after being led to believe that the majority of their fellow students held the opposing opinion, were asked if they would be willing to have their opinion (with their full names) published in the school paper. Results show that simply having high moral conviction about the issue was associated with a feeling of strength - the effect of moral conviction on affect did not depend on speaking out. Study 2 used a computer-based version of an Asch-type conformity paradigm. The target issue was lowering the legal drinking age to 18. As in Study 1 there was a main effect of moral conviction; however an increase in moral conviction was associated with an increase in negative emotions after exposure to the normative influence and no increase in positive emotions. The difference between the main effects of moral conviction on affect found in the two studies is attributed to the difference in target issues. Study 2 also revealed that attitude direction has significant direct effects on affect.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.