Moral Orientations and Traits of Public Relations Exemplars

Patrick Lee Plaisance, Marlene Neill, Jin Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This moral psychology study surveys the College of Fellows of the Public Relations Society of America to examine morally relevant features and motivations. Using the Moral Foundations Theory assessment in conjunction with other moral psychology measures, the results (n = 59) affirm the exemplar status of Fellows, reflected in Global Character Strengths, personality traits and ethical ideology. Fellows reject relativism and rate Honesty and Fairness among their top Character Strengths, reflecting key ethical norms for public relations practice. Results also document links regarding empathy, justice and harm, reflecting the moral intuitionist orientations found to be common among populations in Western developed countries. Overall, the emerging moral psychology profile of PR exemplars embodies the spirit and core meta-ethical elements of both an ethic of care and neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-128
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Public Relations Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration

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