It seems surprisingly hard to pin down what moral outrage actually involves. It's easier to say what it isn't:

However, moral outrage—anger at the violation of a moral standard—should be distinguished from personal anger at being harmed and empathic anger at seeing another for whom one cares harmed. Across a preliminary experiment and a main experiment, both designed to manipulate the appraisal conditions for these three forms of anger, we found evidence of personal anger and empathic anger, but little evidence of moral outrage.

My question is basically: what is known about personality correlates of moral outrage? Below are some musings of my own:

I'm guessing some level of extroversion might be needed to express it, but it might even depend on how that outrage is expressed, e.g. online or in a rally or face-to-face etc.

It's even less clear to me what would correlate (personality wise) with just feeling such an outrage (keeping in mind the non-trivial distinctions from the quote). Possibly the close-mindedness from Big Five (opposite of openness) plays a role, but it's unclear to me if it's universally relevant. E.g. outrage at bigotry could have the exact opposite personality correlates to outrage at unconventional behavior. Maybe the humility/honesty in the HEXACO model has some correlation as well, e.g. with outrage at theft of aggrandisement.

And apparently I'm not the only one to think something like that:

outrage is driven by differing conceptions of what is just. For example, a recent Super Bowl ad featuring a Latino mother and young daughter making the long journey from Mexico to the United States – only to be confronted by a border wall – elicited very different responses of outrage. That’s because those who see the exclusion of immigrants as unjust and those who see maintaining a strict border as justified share a common desire to promote what they see as moral.

So, maybe I'm wrong to assume there are any universal correlates in the current personality models. If that's the case, are there more specific personality facets proposed for correlating with "moral outrage"? Something like a strong sense of having a "moral compass"?

From the previous link:

Our work highlights a third motive that is based on people’s desire to view themselves as morally upright people. Threats to one’s moral self-image have been shown to elicit unpleasant feelings of guilt that can motivate efforts to restore a positive view of oneself. This is commonly expressed by issuing an apology or making amends.

So maybe feeling moral outrage is actually related to Neuroticism? That seems a bit simplistic to me.


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