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Moral decision making

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Reid, EM 2018 , 'Moral decision making', Honours thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

The present study investigated the underlying process of moral decision making, by comparing two prominent theories, and factors that can moderate this. The dual process model suggests cognitive load will selectively reduce utilitarian inclinations (as both the decision and increased cognitive load use cognitive resources), whilst having no effect on deontological inclinations; the Social Intuitionist Model stipulates cognitive load will have no effect on either. The more people saved (for the same number killed; efficient ratio) the more utilitarian the response should be. Method: One hundred and sixty-six participants (125 females; aged 18-73 years, 40 males; aged 19 to 68, and one 24-year-old who did not identify as either) were allocated into one of four conditions, manipulating both cognitive load and kill/save ratio (KSR). Participants remembered a digit string (easy or hard depending on condition) whilst answering a moral dilemma and then answered questions about the difficulty, of the questions and memory task, and some demographics. Results: Bayesian analysis provide some evidence in favour of the null hypothesis for an effect of cognitive load; thus, there is no effect – supporting the Social Intuitionist Model. There is definitive evidence suggesting there is an effect of KSR consistent with theory. Conclusion: Results suggest social and cultural influences determine one’s moral principles, and thus cognitive load will have no effect on the decision. KSR has an impact to an extent; however, some individual differences make it impossible to ever be utilitarian. Future research should look at more individual differences and populations to determine if findings are the same.

Item Type: Thesis - Honours
Authors/Creators:Reid, EM
Keywords: dual process, social intuitionist, kill save ratio, cognitive load, process dissociation
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Copyright 2018 the author

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