In a recent study published in the scientific journal Frontiers of Psychologythe researchers provide evidence that cryptocurrency technology, particularly current adoption in the United States, tends to align more with conservative moral values than liberal values.
The world of cryptocurrencies, often associated with decentralized financial systems, has gained popularity in recent years. Although many see it as a tool for financial freedom, its underlying motivations remain relatively unexplored in academic circles. Previous research has examined the financial and technological aspects of cryptocurrencies but has largely ignored their sociopolitical implications.
Researchers from the University of Utah and Toronto Metropolitan University have embarked on a study aimed at understanding the moral foundations of crypto advocates. Given the controversial nature of discussions around cryptocurrency – with enthusiasts often promoting it as a solution to many economic problems – the study was rooted in understanding the societal and political inclinations behind the topic.
In their research, the team analyzed a wide range of Bitcoin-related tweets and conducted a controlled survey – overall, unpacking insights from two studies. In the first study, a total of 959,393 tweets regarding cryptography were analyzed for their use of moral language (such as words like “pure,” “impure,” and “theft”).
In the second study, a total of 500 participants, all based in the United States, were recruited through a recruitment website called Prolific. 487 passed all attention checks and were included in the analysis, with 297 women and 190 men, with an average age of 37 years. All answered a series of questions covering interest in and attitudes towards cryptocurrency.
Next, the researchers compared crypto enthusiasts’ alignment with so-called “binding moral foundations” (authority, purity and loyalty) – typically associated with political conservatives – to “individualizing foundations” (fairness and care). who are often linked to liberals. .
The results were revealing. Crypto enthusiasts, particularly in the United States, seem to resonate more with conservative values of authority, purity, and loyalty than with liberal ideals of fairness and care. In simpler terms, those interested in cryptocurrencies, based on analysis of tweets and survey results, showed stronger alignment with the moral values often championed by political conservatives. This suggests that the appeal of cryptocurrencies may be deeply rooted in these moral principles, potentially influencing adoption decisions.
The researchers concluded that “our findings document converging evidence that crypto is best understood as a ‘right-wing technology’ more closely aligned with conservative moral foundations at the current stage of its adoption.” Our analyzes of a wide range of Bitcoin tweets and a controlled survey indicate that binding moral foundations (authority, purity, and loyalty) that are more closely associated with political conservatives better reflect a person’s interest in crypto- currency than individualized foundations (equity and care).
However, it is essential to understand the significance of these results. Although the research provides new insight into the moral alignments of cryptocurrency users, it is primarily correlational. This means that while there is a notable connection between conservative values and crypto interest, this does not necessarily imply direct causation. Additionally, this study primarily focused on crypto advocates in the United States, so extrapolating these results to a global audience might not be entirely accurate.
Additionally, research has focused more on understanding the majority – those who invest and are interested in cryptocurrency. He did not delve into the actions of a minority, such as fraudulent companies trying to scam investors. And while the decentralized and open nature of cryptocurrencies may seem like a deterrent to dishonest activity, that doesn’t mean that dishonesty is entirely absent.
Sachin Banker of the University of Utah, along with Joowon Park and Eugene Chan of Toronto Metropolitan University, are authors of the study, titled “The Moral Foundations of Cryptocurrency: Evidence from Twitter and Surveys“.