Journal article

Twentieth century morality: The rise and fall of moral concepts from 1900 to 2007

Melissa A Wheeler, Melanie J McGrath, Nick Haslam

PLoS ONE | Public Library of Science (PLoS) | Published : 2019


Trends in the cultural salience of morality across the 20th century in the Anglophone world, as reflected in changing use of moral language, were explored using the Google Books (English language) database. Relative frequencies of 304 moral terms, organized into six validated sets corresponding to general morality and the five moral domains proposed by moral foundations theory, were charted for the years 1900 to 2007. Each moral language set displayed unique, often nonlinear historical trajectories. Words conveying general morality (e.g., good, bad, moral, evil), and those representing Purity-based morality, implicating sanctity and contagion, declined steeply in frequency from 1900 to aroun..

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Awarded by Australian Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant DP170104948. The funder had no role in study design, data collection, analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.