Frequently Asked Questions

What is Moral Foundations Theory?

From the Moral Foundations Theory website:

Moral Foundations Theory was created by a group of social and cultural psychologists (see us here) to understand why morality varies so much across cultures yet still shows so many similarities and recurrent themes. In brief, the theory proposes that several innate and universally available psychological systems are the foundations of “intuitive ethics.” Each culture then constructs virtues, narratives, and institutions on top of these foundations, thereby creating the unique moralities we see around the world, and conflicting within nations too.

What are the foundations?

“Foundations” in MFT are themes of morality that are ubiquitous across cultures.

Five foundations were proposed originally:

Afterwards, Liberty was proposed as an additional foundation.

It was recently proposed to replace Fairness/Cheating with Equality and Proportionality (Atari, et. al., 2022).

How is Natural Language Processing used in MFT?

Several natural language processing (NLP) methods have been proposed to operationalize MFT on natural language data. Most of these methods are interested in understanding the moral content of a text in terms of the foundations, a task that is typically referred to as “moral sentiment analysis”. Additional tasks will be added to this site as they are curated, more coming soon :). If you would like to add a task, please see the contributing guidelines.


Atari, et. al 2022