Judgments made after a moral evaluation are quicker and more extreme than the same judgment based on practical considerations, but morality-based evaluations can be more easily shifted and made with other considerations in mind, according to research published November 28 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Jay Van Bavel and colleagues from New York University.
Previous research has suggested that moral reasoning usually occurs after a person makes a decision, as a post hoc justification of their choice, rather than the basis for the decision itself. This new study suggests that people can evaluate choices using either moral or non-moral considerations, and this can lead to different choices for the same actions.
For example, participants in the study were given actions that are typically evaluated in a moral context, such as murder, and non-moral actions, such as riding a bike or buying organic food, and asked to evaluate each in both a pragmatic and a moral sense. They were also asked to choose how strongly they would advocate the action to others.
The authors found that participants had different responses to the same decision depending on whether or not it was framed as a moral or pragmatic choice. They found that moral evaluations were faster, more extreme and more strongly associated with universal prescriptions ("everybody/nobody should" statements) than non-moral or pragmatic evaluations of the same actions. In addition, the authors also found that people took longer to decide on such universal prescriptions when asked to evaluate them in a pragmatic rather than moral context.
According to the authors, their results suggest that deciding to frame any issue as moral or not may have important consequences. They say, "Once an issue is declared moral, people's judgments about that issue become more extreme, and they are more likely to apply those judgments to others."
Public Library of Science: http://www.plos.org
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
It's all fun and games until someone dislocates a knee, wets himself or has a stroke
Use of synthetic drugs, like bath salts, by young people continues to decline across the nation, according to a study by the University of Michigan.
Researchers are struggling with how to balance the benefits and risks of genetic experiments that can give viruses new talents for causing infections.
For all the medicine they provide at this center, physicians and staff from Doctors Without Borders spend as much time encouraging the patients to eat, drink, and keep fighting. Every patient gets a standard regimen of antibiotics, paracetemol and other pain medications, vitamins, oral rehydration therapy or intravenous fluids. Drugs can control nausea for those who need them; everyone gets antimalarials.
Dengue sickens millions of people each year, and there's no cure. Now scientists have found powerful antibodies that stop the virus. Their discovery offers a road map to develop a simple vaccine.
British doctors make the case for playing music during an operation
Doughnuts? No thank you. An edible powder made from stuff our gut bacteria excrete can stop people gaining weight when taken daily
While the US intelligence agency brutalised detainees, evidence that torture was counterproductive was staring it in the face, says Michael Bond
Aggressive tactics and discriminatory policies have brought the US police system to a deadly impasse
Kids who are given a moral reason to tell the truth tend to do so more often