Moral rhetoric in discrete choice models: a Natural Language Processing approach

Teodóra Szép*, Sander van Cranenburgh, Caspar Chorus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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This paper proposes a new method to combine choice- and text data to infer moral motivations from people’s actions. To do this, we rely on moral rhetoric, in other words, extracting moral values from verbal expressions with Natural Language Processing techniques. We use moral rhetoric based on a well-established moral, psychological theory called Moral Foundations Theory. We use moral rhetoric as input in Discrete Choice Models to gain insights into moral behaviour based on people’s words and actions. We test our method in a case study of voting and party defection in the European Parliament. Our results indicate that moral rhetoric have significant explanatory power in modelling voting behaviour. We interpret the results in the light of political science literature and propose ways for future investigations.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages28
JournalQuality and Quantity
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Discrete choice models
  • Moral Foundations Theory
  • Moral rhetoric
  • Natural Language Processing


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