Date of Graduation

Spring 2019


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Erin Buchanan


The media ecosystem has grown, and political opinions have diverged such that there are competing conceptions of objective truth. Commentators often point to political biases in news coverage as a catalyst for this political divide. The Moral Foundations Dictionary (MFD) facilitates identification of ideological leanings in text through frequency of the occurrence of certain words. Through web scraping, the researcher extracted articles from popular news sources’ websites, calculated MFD word frequencies, and identified words’ respective valences. This process attempts to uncover news outlets’ positive or negative endorsements of certain moral dimensions concomitant with a particular ideology. In Experiment 1, the researcher gathered political articles from four sources. The researcher was unable to reveal significant differences in moral or political endorsements, but they solidified the method to be employed in further research. In Experiment 2, the researcher expanded the number of sources to 10 and analyzed articles that pertain to two specific topics: the 2018 confirmation hearings of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the partial U.S. Government Shutdown of 2018- 2019. Once again, no significant differences in moral or political endorsements were found.


politics, morality, psycholinguistics, discourse, media

Subject Categories

Other Psychology | Quantitative Psychology


© William Edward Padfield

Open Access