Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Professor Shana Levin

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2020 Amanda A Kandasamy


This study explores morality as a third fundamental dimension of person perception by examining the effects of moral portrayal and gender on political candidate perception. Independent of central traits warmth and competence which compose the Stereotype Content Model, morality has previously been considered a sub-dimension of warmth but is empirically and evolutionarily distinct. As previous studies reveal gender differences in evaluations of warmth and competence, this study investigates the gendered nature of morality specifically in the context of the political realm using the five dichotomies of Moral Foundations Theory: Care, Fairness, Loyalty, Authority, and Purity. Using fourteen 2x2 factorial designs and 220 participants via Amazon Mechanical Turk, this study investigates the gender effects of who is judging the candidate (between-subjects: male versus female) and the gender of the candidate being judged (between-subjects: male versus female) within seven different moral portrayals (No Moral Violation, and Generic, Care, Fairness, Loyalty, Authority, as well as Purity Violations) on two dependent variables: perceived candidate morality and candidate approval rating. Controlling for conservatism, religiosity, sexism, and socioeconomic status, level of morality was statistically significant in its effect on perceived candidate morality and approval ratings, supporting morality as the third dimension of person perception. Additionally, we found a significant effect of candidate gender on perceived candidate morality for candidates described as having violated the authority moral foundation such that female candidates scored higher. Overall, results suggest that perceptions of morality are important in political candidate evaluations and that future studies should further examine the impacts of gender.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.