The Mediating Role of Meta-Relational Threat Sensitivity on the Relationship between Parental Motivation and Moral JudgmentsBeyza Tepe, Sena Cüre Acer
Research shows that parental motivation is associated with moral sensitivity. Previous research also concurs that high levels of parental motivation are associated with high levels of moral sensitivity. This is grounded in the fact that individuals’ needs allow them to bring a child in a society where moral values are preserved and maintained. By extending previous research, the current study aims to examine the mediative role of meta-relational threat sensitivity introduced by Tepe and Aydinli-Karakulak (2019) (evaluating immoral behaviors at the society level) as an individual predisposition on this link. More specifically, individuals’ high levels of parental motivation will be associated with moral wrongness judgments about a violation of social relationships between in-group members such as family or friends (unity violation, e.g., a mother who does not care about her child or an incest relationship between two siblings), through their high levels of community-based meta-relational threat sensitivity. Data (N = 127) were collected from university undergraduates in Turkey. Results showed that there are indirect effects of community-based meta-relational threat sensitivity on the link between parental motivation and moral wrongness judgments of unity violation despite their marginal significance. In addition to contributing meta-relational threat sensitivity as a measure of individual predisposition to the field of moral psychology, the current study not only suggests a mediative role of meta-relational threat sensitivity on the link between parental motivation and moral wrongness judgments but also emphasizes the role of parental motivation (even among nonparents) on the maintenance of the moral systems at the society level. This highlighted further a different perspective on the link between parenting and morality. In simpler terms, high levels of parental motivation are associated with high levels of community-based meta-relational threat sensitivity, which in turn leads to harsher moral wrongness judgments. Moreover, the current study focuses on relationship regulation theory, relational motivations, social conservatism, and life-history strategy to discuss the findings.
Ebeveynlik Motivasyonu ile Ahlaki Yargı Arasında Meta-İlişkisel Tehdit Hassasiyetinin Aracı RolüBeyza Tepe, Sena Cüre Acer
Ebeveynlik motivasyonu ile ahlaki hassasiyetin ilişkili olduğunu gösteren birçok çalışma mevcuttur. Mevcut çalışmalara göre yüksek ebeveynlik motivasyonu, yüksek ahlaki hassasiyet ile ilişkilidir, bunun arka planında bireylerin değerleri koruyan ve sürdüren bir topluma çocuk getirmeyi istemesi yatmaktadır. Alan yazındaki çalışmaları temel alan bu çalışmanın amacı ise Tepe ve AydınlıKarakulak’ın (2019) önerdiği meta-ilişkisel tehdit kavramının (bireylerin ahlaki durumları bireysel düzeyde değil, toplumsal düzeyde düşünmeleri), bir kişilik özelliği olarak bu ilişkide aracı rol oynayıp oynamadığını incelemektir. Özellikle aile üyeleri ya da iç grup üyeleriyle kurulan sosyal ilişkiyi bozan (birlik motivasyonu ihlali, örneğin, annenin çocuğu ile ilgilenmemesi ya da iki kardeş arasındaki ensest ilişki) durumlara yönelik ahlaki yargının ebeveynlik motivasyonu yüksek bireylerde, toplumsal düzeyde yüksek meta-ilişkisel tehdit hassasiyeti ile ilişkili olacağı ve bunun da olumsuz ahlaki yargıyı yordayacağı beklenmektedir. Çalışmanın verileri (N =127), İstanbul’da bir vakıf üniversitesindeki öğrencilerden toplanmıştır. Analiz sonuçlarına göre, birlik motivasyonu ihlaline yönelik ahlaki yargı ve ebeveynlik motivasyonu arasında toplumsal düzeyde meta-ilişkisel tehdit yatkınlığının aracı rolü olduğu tespit edilmiş, fakat bu aracılığın sınırda anlamlılık gösterdiği bulunmuştur. Bu çalışma, meta-ilişkisel tehdit algısı kavramını bireysel bir ölçüm olarak ahlak psikolojisi alan yazınına kazandırmanın yanı sıra, ebeveynlik motivasyonunun ahlaki yargıyı, toplumsal düzeyde meta-ilişkisel tehdit eğilimi vasıtasıyla yordayabileceğini önermektedir. Dolayısıyla ebeveyn olma halinin (olunmasa dahi) toplumsal düzeyde ahlak mekanizmasının sürmesindeki rolünü göstererek ahlak ve ebeveynlik ilişkisine yönelik farklı bir bakış açısı kazandırmaktadır. Kısaca kişilerin yüksek ebeveynlik motivasyonuna sahip olmaları, onların ahlaki ihlallerde toplumsal düzeyde meta-ilişkisel tehdit algılamaları ile ilişkilenmekte ve bu durum da katı ahlaki yargı ile ilişkilenmektedir. Bu çalışmanın bulguları, ilişki düzenleme kuramı, ilişki motivasyonları, sosyal muhafazakarlık ve yaşam tarihi stratejisi üzerinden ele alınmış ve tartışılmıştır.
Parenting is one of the slow life-history strategies that requires socio-ecological stability where individual selfishness is suppressed and close and cooperative social relationships are supported (Gladden & Cleator, 2018). This adaptive strategy manifests in different types of behaviors such as delayed sexual maturity, higher parental care, longer life expectancy, and higher degrees of altruism (Figueredo et al., 2006; Pianka, 1970; Rushton, 1985). This socioecological stability also requires the preservation and maintenance of moral norms. Hence, parental motivation is found to be related with moral sensitivity (Dunkel et al., 2016; Gladden et al., 2009). Also, Kerry and Murray (2018) showed that parental motivation predicted moral wrongness judgments, even among nonparents.
Fiske (2011) conceptualized meta-relational threat sensitivity, which suggests that morality is beyond the actors who commit moral violations. Tepe and Aydinli-Karakulak (2019) tested the concept empirically and showed that moral wrongness judgments not only focus on trangressors’ behavior but also consider potential consequences of a morally wrong behavior toward community and future social relationships. In the current research, meta-relational threat sensitivity was measured as an individual predisposition. Simply put, when individuals consider morality at the community level (e.g., if a behavior violates societal harmony, it should not only be the concern of a person who performs this behavior but also be the concern of the society at large), they receive high scores from community based meta-relational threat sensitivity. However, if they consider them as individual cases (e.g., an immoral behavior should be a concern of a person who carries out this behavior), they receive high scores from individual-based meta-relational threat sensitivity.
In conformity with relationship regulation theory (Rai & Fiske, 2011), morality is a mechanism that regulates social relationships, and this mechanism can be maintained with four basic relationship motivations: unity, hierarchy, equality, and proportionality. When one of these motivations is violated, moral wrongness perceptions occur. For instance, a mother does not care for her child, the mother’s behavior here is an example of unity violation. In the current research, community-based meta-relational threat sensitivity is hypothesized as a mediator on the link between parental motivation and moral wrongness judgments of unity violation. Overall, it was assumed that parental motivation will be positively associated with moral wrongness judgments of unity violation (Hypothesis 1) and the link between parental motivation and moral wrongness judgments of unity violation will be mediated by community-based meta-relational threat sensitivity (Hypothesis 2).
Data were collected from 127 (109 women) university undergraduates in Turkey, in return for course credits. Parenting Motivation (PCAT-pn) Questionnaire, State Meta-Relational Threat Scale, eight immoral scenarios, and moral wrongness assessment with three items corresponding to each scenario were used to obtain responses from the participants. Participants completed an online experiment on Qualtrics. Order of the scales was randomized.
Exploratory factor analysis examined the factor structures of the newly developed 10- item meta-relational threat scale. The scale tested in the first stage explains 59.81% of the total variance with its two-factor (community and individual levels) structure. None of the items were removed. The scale with its two-factor structure including 10 items showed good reliability. The Cronbach alpha reliability coefficients were .80 and .85 for community and individual levels, respectively.
Results showed that parental motivation positively correlated with moral condemnation of unity violations (r =. 20, p < .05) but not with moral condemnation of other violations (e.g., hierarchy, equality, and proportionality). Additionally, community-based meta-relational threat sensitivity seems weakly mediate the relationship between parenting motivation and moral judgments, with an overall score of moral wrongness judgments of each relational violation. But as hypothesized, even though there is a marginal significance, there are indirect effects of community-based meta-relational threat sensitivity (β = .05, %95 CI [−.00, .16]). Both moral wrongness judgments of unity violation (β = .20, %95 CI [.04, .38]) and community-based meta-relational threat sensitivity (β = .21, %95 CI [.04, .38]) were significantly predicted by parental motivation. When the predictors entered together, while parental motivation (β = .15, %95 CI [−.02, .32], p =. 09) was not a significant predictor of moral wrongness judgments of unity violation, community-based meta-relational threat sensitivity was a significant one, (β = .23, %95 CI [.06, .40], p = .01), R2 = .09, F (2, 124) = 6.13, p < .01. When parental motivation was entered as a single predictor of moral wrongness judgments of unity violation, explanative power of the model reduced, R2 = .04, F (1, 125) = 5.19, p < .05.
The results showed that parental motivation and unity motivation positively linked with each other. This study approached meta-relational threat sensitivity, as an individual predisposition, with two factors (i.e., community-based and individual-based metarelational threat sensitivity). Results indicated that community-based meta-relational threat sensitivity mediates the link between parental motivation and moral wrongness judgments of unity violation. However, results showed a weak mediative role of meta-relational threat sensitivity. In addition, the explanative power of the model was only 9%, which suggests that there are variables needed to be explored on this link.