College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-23-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Christine Reyna, PhD

Second Advisor

Kimberly Quinn, PhD

Third Advisor

Linda Camras, PhD


Rozin and colleagues’ CAD model (1999) proposed that violations of three different moral domains (community, autonomy, and divinity) each elicit a specific emotional response (contempt, anger, and disgust). Moral Foundations Theory (MFT; Haidt & Joseph, 2007) is a five-factor moral taxonomy derived from the three moral domains used in the CAD study. This thesis investigates whether the CAD model fully applies to MFT, regarding both state and trait emotions. In keeping with the CAD model, previous research found that state anger relates to harm and fairness violations (autonomy), and that both state and trait disgust relate to purity violations (divinity; Horberg, Oveis, Keltner, & Cohen, 2009). However, no study has empirically tested whether the loyalty and authority foundations (community) relate to state or trait contempt. This gap in the literature was investigated across two studies. Study 1 used a correlational design that primarily focused on the development of a new comprehensive trait contempt instrument and construct; exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses indicated that the instrument’s items formed factors that matched their predicted structure, and that each of these factors contributed strongly to a latent trait contempt construct. To test the convergent and discriminant validity of the new instrument, participants completed previously developed instruments that assess trait anger, trait disgust, and trait contempt (Crowley, 2013; Izard et al., 1993). However, a principle components analysis that included these instruments did not fully support the new instrument’s discriminant validity, as trait anger and disgust did not form separate factors from trait contempt but rather loaded onto dimensions of trait contempt relating to other-criticalness. Finally, in order to test whether trait contempt predicts loyalty and authority values, participants completed the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (Graham et al., 2011). Contrary to expectations, trait contempt was not associated with authority, and was negatively associated with loyalty values. Study 2, a within-subjects experiment, used contempt’s unique facial expression as a way to assess contempt’s relation to MFT. Participants engaged in a facial expression-rating task: They read short scenarios featuring violations of the five moral foundations, and then rated photos of contempt, anger, and disgust facial expressions according to how strongly they felt each emotion. Study 2 appears to be the first study to use a facial expression photo paradigm (similar to Rozin et al., 1999) to test the relations between the CAD emotions and MFT. Contrary to predictions, although contempt was significantly associated with loyalty and authority violations, this association was not unique, as contempt was statistically similar to both anger and disgust across all moral violations except purity. Participants also completed the trait contempt instrument from Study 1; this was done to test whether overall contempt expression ratings could be used as an alternate measure of trait contempt. However, contempt expression ratings were not significantly associated with trait contempt, either across or within scenario types. Finally, Study 2 tested the relation between trait contempt and immorality judgments towards loyalty and authority foundation violations; trait contempt was not significantly associated with either. Although hypotheses pertaining to the CAD model and MFT were disconfirmed, this thesis makes several contributions. The development of a comprehensive trait contempt construct and instrument may provide opportunities for a wide range of future studies. Trait contempt may predict behaviors such as discrimination and attitudes such as prejudice, social dominance orientation, and political ideology. Studies 1 and 2 were also the first to comprehensively test both contempt and trait contempt’s relation to moral foundation theory; their results may cast some doubt on the original CAD study’s findings. Finally, this study’s findings contribute a greater understanding of the link between personality, emotion, and moral values.

SLP Collection


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Psychology Commons