Moral Expansiveness Around the World: The Role of Societal Factors Across 36 Countries

Kelly KIRKLAND*, Charlie R. CRIMSTON, Jolanda JETTEN, Maksim RUDNEV, Cesar ACEVEDO-TRIANA, Catherine E. AMIOT, Liisi AUSMEES, Peter BAGUMA, Oumar BARRY, Maja BECKER, Michal BILEWICZ, Watcharaporn Boonyasiriwat, Thomas CASTELAIN, Giulio COSTANTINI, Girts DIMDINS, Agustín ESPINOSA, Gillian FINCHILESCU, Ronald FISCHER, Malte FRIESE, Maria Cecilia GASTARDO-CONACOÁngel GÓMEZ, Roberto GONZÁLEZ, Nobuhiko GOTO, Peter HALAMA, Gabriela M. JIGA-BOY, Peter KUPPENS, Steve LOUGHNAN, Marijana MARKOVIK, Khairul A. MASTOR, Neil MCLATCHIE, Lindsay M. NOVAK, Blessing N. ONYEKACHI, Müjde PEKER, Muhammad RIZWAN, Mark SCHALLER, Eunkook M. SUH, Sanaz TALAIFAR, Eddie M. W. TONG, Ana TORRES, Rhiannon N. TURNER, Paul A. M. VAN LANGE, Christin-melanie VAUCLAIR, Alexander VINOGRADOV, Zhechen WANG, Victoria Wai Lan YEUNG, Brock BASTIAN

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


What are the things that we think matter morally, and how do societal factors influence this? To date, research has explored several individual-level and historical factors that influence the size of our ‘moral circles.' There has, however, been less attention focused on which societal factors play a role. We present the first multi-national exploration of moral expansiveness—that is, the size of people’s moral circles across countries. We found low generalized trust, greater perceptions of a breakdown in the social fabric of society, and greater perceived economic inequality were associated with smaller moral circles. Generalized trust also helped explain the effects of perceived inequality on lower levels of moral inclusiveness. Other inequality indicators (i.e., Gini coefficients) were, however, unrelated to moral expansiveness. These findings suggest that societal factors, especially those associated with generalized trust, may influence the size of our moral circles.
Original languageEnglish
Article number194855062211017
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Early online date5 Jul 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Brock Bastian was supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) (grant number DP200101446), Steve Loughnan was supported by the Philip Leverhulme Prize, Roberto González was supported by the Center for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies (ANID/FONDAP 15130009) and the Center for Intercultural and Indigenous Research (ANID/FONDAP 15110006), Nobuhiko Goto was supported by the JSPS KAKENHI (grant number 19KK0063), Girts Dimdins was supported by the Latvian Council of Science (grant number lzp-2018/1-0402), Michal Bilewicz was supported by the Polish National Science Center Grant Sonata Bis (grant number UMO-2017/26/E/HS6/00129). and Maksim Rudnev was supported by a research project implemented as part of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE University).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • moral circles
  • moral expansiveness
  • economic inquality
  • trust
  • anomie
  • economic inequality


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