New Publication: The Ideological Predictors of Moral Appeals by European Political Elites


Sophie Minihold, together with Linda Bos, published their article on "the Use of Moral Rhetoric in Multiparty Systems" in Political Psychology. Congratulations!

You can find the full article open access & online here


Moral rhetoric is a powerful tool for any politician. Yet knowledge on the actual use of political moral appeals is scarce and mostly limited to two‐party systems. This study is the first to systematically investigate the use of moral appeals in formal and informal political elite communication in the multiparty systems of Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands. This allows us to look beyond the unidimensional left‐right axis, instead investigating the extent to which the economic, the sociocultural, and the populist dimension explain differences in moral language. The Moral Foundations Dictionary is used in automated content analyses to study the presence of (different) moral appeals in party manifestos (n = 171,639) and tweets (n = 1,130,073). The results show that West European political elites use a fair amount of moral appeals in their political communication (41.6% of manifesto statements and 33.3% of tweets). Commonalities in the usage of moral language are larger than differences. Yet found differences are multidimensional. Especially when communication is less scripted, political elites tend to distinguish themselves from opponents in their appeals to different moral foundations. Most importantly, these appeals are congruent with ideological values.

Bos, L. and Minihold, S. (2021), The Ideological Predictors of Moral Appeals by European Political Elites; An Exploration of the Use of Moral Rhetoric in Multiparty Systems. Political Psychology.