Zillmann's moral sanction theory defines morality subcultures for entertainment as groups of media viewers who evaluate character actions with shared value systems. However, the theory provides no a priori means to identify these shared value systems. The model of intuitive morality and exemplars incorporates a theoretical framework for identifying and testing the factors from which these shared value systems emerge. This study applies the model's framework, based on 5 "moral domains" from moral foundations theory, to test the influence of shared value systems on character perceptions and narrative appeal. A within-subject experiment varied violation of these five domains (care, fairness, ingroup loyalty, authority, and purity) and narrative resolutions (positive or negative outcomes) in 10 short narrative scenarios. The 5 domains predicted character perceptions and narrative appeal. The results are discussed in terms of the utility of these domains for understanding the reciprocal relationship between audience values and media response.
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