Faculty Articles

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-2014

Publication Title

Judgment and Decision Making

ISSN or ISBN

1930-2975

Volume

9

Issue/Number

3

First Page

176

ISSN

1930-2975

Last Page

190

Abstract/Excerpt

Two studies examined the relationship between individual differences in cognitive reflection (CRT) and the tendency to accord genuinely moral (non-conventional) status to a range of counter-normative acts — that is, to treat such acts as wrong regardless of existing social opinion or norms. We contrasted social violations that are intrinsically harmful to others (e.g., fraud, thievery) with those that are not (e.g., wearing pajamas to work and engaging in consensual acts of sexual intimacy with an adult sibling). Our key hypothesis was that more reflective (higher CRT) individuals would tend to moralize selectively — treating only intrinsically harmful acts as genuinely morally wrong — whereas less reflective (lower CRT) individuals would moralize more indiscriminately. We found clear support for this hypothesis in a large and ideologically diverse sample of American adults. The predicted associations were not fully accounted for by the subjects’ political orientation, sensitivity to gut feelings, gender, age, educational attainment, or their placement on a sexual morals-specific measure of social conservatism. Our studies are the first to demonstrate that, in addition to modulating the intensity of moral condemnation, reflection may also play a key role in setting the boundaries of the moral domain as such.

DOI

10.1017/S1930297500005738

Comments

We are grateful to Gordon Pennycook and an anonymous reviewer for their comments on an earlier version of this draft and to Jonathan Baron for his comments, editorial advice, and contributions to various aspects of this project.

Copyright: © 2014.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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