Moralization as legitimization for ostracism
Moralization refers to a widely used strategy aiming to persuade others to change their attitudes and behaviors concerning an issue. Such moralization may result in severe and strong negative consequences that evoke damaging intergroup dynamics which will likely undermine social cohesion. This chapter argues that moralization can unfold a pervasive, negative impact on social cohesion, and can undermine society’s capability to attain important societal goals. It proposes that persuasion will shift people’s construal of issues from weak attitudes, thus preferences, to strong moral attitudes, thus moral values. Persuasion in advertisement results in individual differentiation processes which are reflected in the traditional scholarly interest in the impact of persuasion on those targeted by persuasion. The single most notable consequence of moralization is the absolute intolerance for deviations from the moral norm, which is different when non-moral norms are transgressed. The assignment of responsibility for negative outcomes provides a strong legitimization for the stigmatization of non-conformers of moral norms.