1. E2/P2: Video Lecture by
  2. Moral Attitude: Meaning
  3. Moral Attitude: Implications of
  4. Role of Social Media in Moral Attitude
  5. Political Attitude and ideologies
  6. Factors affecting Political attitude
  7. Role of Social Media in Political Attitude
  8. Strength of Attitude
  9. Accessibility of Attitude
  10. Milgram Experiment

E2/P1: Video Lecture by Kavan Limbasiya (AIR-198/CSE’14)

In the previous part (E2/P1), we understood the meaning, structure and function of attitude. Now we’ll see the moral and political attitudes, for UPSC General studies paper 4 (GS4)
Moral and Political Attitude for UPSC GS4 Ethics
Youtube Link: https://youtu.be/1oUiCAN3IT0

Moral Attitude: Meaning

  • Not all attitudes are concerned with Morality. E.g. My attitude towards snakes has nothing to do with morality. But my attitude towards democracy will have moral undertones.
  • So, Moral attitudes are based on moral convictions of what is “Right” and what is “wrong”.
  • Moral attitudes are stronger than moral beliefs.
  • Family, society, religion and education play important role in framing those moral convictions.

Moral Attitude: Implications of

Positive Implications Negative Implications
Tied up with strong emotions. Hence prevents deviant behaviors among normal folks due to fear of social Osctricization e.g. child molestation, incest.
  • Person can use it to justify violence behavior and lunacy and still society will accept it because moral attitude = strong emotions. Example
  • April 1919: A violent mob attacks an English missionary Marcella Sherwood in Punjab. General Dyer uses this to justify Jaliawalla Massacre, and he’s given hero’s welcome in England.
Motivates a person towards Altruism, volunteerism, social service. Motivates a person towards riots, genocide and terrorism.
  • Since moral attitude is tied with strong emotions, people don’t get along with those who don’t share their moral attitude.
  • Result? Intolerance. Before buying/renting a house, people will inquire about the caste/religion of the neighbors.
  • Religious attitude has trickle down effect. E.g. Hindus vs. Muslim- if there is negativity towards other person’s religious outlook, then they’ll find differences even in political and economic outlooks. Ultimately it’ll transform from religious to communal attitude.

Role of Social Media in Moral Attitude

  • Through facebook, whatsapp etc. youngsters are exposed to vulgar jokes, MMS, porn every day.
  • This Adolescent curiosity about sex/porn vs. moral lesson to respect women = cognitive dissonance.
  • According to studies, such boys have less empathy towards rape victims, aggressive behavioral tendencies, increased interest in coercing partners towards unwanted sex and so on.
  • Bad/careless parenting + indifferent attitude of teachers + Peer pressure + exposure on TV/internet = A Teenager’s moral compass doesn’t point to straight north.
  • Such teenagers feel attracted towards doing ‘wrong’ things through internet, because internet gives them following advantages
6 ways Internet catalyses wrong behavior
1.Anonymity You can remain unknown / untraceable by police.
2.Action at distance You don’t need to come near the victim.
3.Automation Through computer scripts, you can circulate same message/photos on thousands of online groups within few keystrokes.
4.Accessibility Dataplans getting cheap everyday
5.Perpetuity Text-images will multiply and exist indefinitely. So, even if say an MMS is removed from one web-portal by court order, it’ll continue to circulate among others.


End result = 6 forms of Cyber-violence against Women
1.Hacking Unauthorized access to system to acquire information
  • Creating fake profile of a woman on Facebook to embarrass her.
  • Creating fake profile on dating site to entrap woman in sex-trade.
  • Tracking a victim through her GPS-mobile, tracking keystrokes.
  • Planting spy-cams in ladies washrooms.
  • Recording of MMS in hotel rooms/gardens.
4.Harassment Through persistence calls, messages, emails
  • Sex-traffickers use whatsapp, chat-room, message boards to communicate with clients.
  • Fraudsters post fake job vacancies to lure women into sex-trade.
6.Malicious distribution
  • Spurned lover putting Morphed photos or ex-boyfriend posting intimate photos on social media to embarrass woman.

Cyber-violence against women, is prevalent in all types of countries

  • First world: pornography, and sites such as Ashley Madison that help married people to cheat on their partners.
  • Developing countries: ~2 lakh children are kidnapped and sold every year in China through online portal (2014 UN Gender report)
  • Least Developed countries: Currently mobile phones are most commonly used tools for cyber violence in Nigeria, Kenya – such as Viral rape videos/MMS.

Self-Study: Government of India decides to partially lift the ban on pornographic sites.

Political Attitude and ideologies

It defines your like or dislike for a political person, party or ideology.

Ideology Character
Liberal/Moderate They support basic ideas of liberty, equality and democracy but want reforms in the system albeit not in extreme/violent manner but through constitutional / legal means.
Conservative Want Status quo. They believe changes or reforms will not improve the situation.
  • Progressive: slowly reform the system
  • Radical: immediately reform the system, e.g. Marx: Confiscate all the private property immediately.
  • Nehru was a progressive- he believed state ownership but in a gradual manner.
  • They’re one step behind Conservatives I.e. Conservatives want status quo, while reactionaries want to go back to previous system.
  • Example Taliban/ISIS wanting to run nation with literal interpretation of Sharia/Quran.
  • Religious organizations involved in politics= they’re usually reactionary in nature.
  • They’re also unhappy with current system but reject violence as a tool to achieve the goal.
  • Example: Gandhi, Dr.Martin Luther King Jr.

Factors affecting Political attitude

  • Religion shapes a person’s moral attitude E.g. Christianity defines Marriage as a union between man and a woman. Therefore, a devout Christian will oppose same-sex marriage.
  • Moral attitude will predict political attitude. E.g. devout Christian more likely to vote for Republican party in USA, since Republicans are opposed to same-sex marriage.
  • Older people more conservative and lean towards ‘political’ democracy. (Younger people want ‘economic democracy).
  • Young people more liberal / radical. They’re interested in change, because they’ll ‘live’ to enjoy fruits of those changes.
  • But there are no hard and fast rules e.g. When Ronald Regan was young, he was a supporter of Democrats and wanted government intervention in market.  But when he grew old, he leaned towards republican party, and worked for market oriented reforms.
Economic Status
  • Poor will align towards communist / socialist ideology. He’ll vote for a party promising to get food, fertilizer and kerosene subsidy.
  • Rich will align towards right wing- free market, capitalism. He’ll vote for a party promising to remove wealth tax. (recall the Utilitarian function of Attitude in E2/P1).
  • So, why did Socialism thrive in post-colonial democratic third world countries from 50s to 80s? Because people were mostly poor.
Residence “Local” unemployed youth more likely to align with party that promises “action” against the migrants or reservation based on region.
Family Children more likely to espouse the political ideology of their parents.
Race If a race feels they’re deprived of opportunities because of other races, then more likely to lean towards a party offering radical solutions against other races. E.g. German “Aryans” joining Nazi party.
Gender Females more likely to lean towards liberal ideology.
Education School syllabus plays an important role. A Chinese may find Indian democracy as repulsive, because he has been taught that Mao’s Communist ideology is best.
Conception about human nature
  • Hobbes said, “A person is fundamentally evil.” Therefore, a strong-powerful state is required.
  • Locke said, “Man is a good rational person”. Therefore, state should be kept weak, and men should be made strong by giving more freedom and rights.
  • Thus, if we believe people have feeling of altruism, we’ll support communist ideology.
  • Some people hate order and prefer chaos-like Joker in the Dark Knight. They’ll naturally be in favor of anarchy / radicalism.
  • If a person is born and raised in a military family, he’d be in favor of strong state, discipline, order, authoritarianism.
  • Japan is a disciplined society, you’ll find the same in their building Architecture and political functioning.
Social media The information processed and shared on social media, molds a person’s political views. Social media has played big role in swinging the opinion of youth towards Modi/BJP during 2014 General elections.

Keep in mind that a person’s political attitude is shaped not by any single, but complex combination of all above factors. E.g. A “Poor” Muslim youth may be pro-Congress/SP but a Rich Dawoodi Bohra Muslim may be pro-Modi.

Role of Social Media in Political Attitude

  • In 2014 general election, ~16 crore voters were 18-24 age group first time voters. In such demographic composition, social media/internet plays huge role in shaping political attitude.
  • Social media has helped both Modi and Kejriwal to reach surprise victories in election.
  • Social media is full of both Hindu vs. Muslim, India vs Pakistan, Shia vs.  A teenager exposed to such groups, is likely to develop extreme radical or reactionary political views.
  • ISIS is using social media to recruit soldiers for their war.
  • Muzaffarnagar riots were a result of a viral video about eve teasing. Here moral attitude (about dignity of women) + Religion + politics created a deadly stew.
  • Whatsapp has become an App for activism and empowerment- for coordination of political and violent agitation. During recent Paatidar agitation in Gujarat, mobile internet was banned to prevent perpetrators from coordinating their attacks/spreading false rumors.
  • Self-Study: Section 66A and freedom of speech

Strength of Attitude

Government of Maharashtra has imposed beef ban in the states. How do you feel about this?

Strength of attitude Result?
Strong You’ll go out in dharnaa-Pradarshan for/against meat-ban
Neutral You’ll not say /do anything thinking “this doesn’t concern me at personal level”.
Mild You may murmur about it to your family members while watching news.

In short, we can ‘predict’ behavior by measuring strength of the attitude.

Accessibility of Attitude

Conscious You’re aware. Those “C-A-B” components immediately light in your brain.
Hidden (unconscious) You’re unaware. “C-A-B” won’t immediately reflect in your thoughts.

Study: Participants were asked “will you vote for Obama?”

  • Those who immediately raised hands (conscious), they’ll go for voting on the election date.
  • Those who raise hands after few minutes – they did not go to voting.

Milgram Experiment

Milgram Experiment on ethics & political attitude

  • Hitler was an evil dictator. But even ordinary Germans participated in atrocities against Jews. Why?
  • Prof. Stanley Milgram of Yale University (1961) began experiment to study it.
  • The participant (teacher) would ask a series of questions to another “participant” (learner).
  • The teachers were instructed to shock the learners whenever an incorrect answer was given.
  • The learner was not a participant at all but actually an actor who would pretend to be hurt by the shocks and yell out in pain when the button was pushed.
  • 2/3rd of the participants gave shocks upto fatal level (450 volts).
  • Because behind participant, there was a doctor, he’ll keep saying “go on…increase the voltage, person will not die.”

Moral of the story

  1. Lack of accountability, overwrites your conscience: Doctor is the authoritarian figure. Individual participant’s conscience is overpowered, when participant thinks “it’s not my responsibility, I’m only following orders”.
  2. Authoritarian figure can overwrite your conscience: Hitler was a great orator; he could sway the crowd in his favor just by a speech.
  3. Peer-pressure is stronger than obedience: If there are two participants, second participants refuses to give shock to the subject and storms out of the room, then first participant may also walk away
  4. Thus, Strength wise: peer-pressure (Conformity) > obedience > conscience.

This can explain

Nuremberg trials German officers justified their actions saying we were just following orders (obedience).
Mass hysteria
Peer-pressure. You’ve to participate, if others are participating. (conformity). Examples of Mass-Hysteria- “Ganpati drinking milk”

In the next part (E2/P3) we’ll see the factors responsible for attitude formation, prejudice, discrimination and how to change behavior of people? And finally (E2/P4), we’ll see the case studies and questions related to this topic.
Visit Mrunal.org/Ethics for more study material on Ethics.