Moral appraisals affect doing/allowing judgments

Cognition 108 (2):353-380 (2008)
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Abstract

An extensive body of research suggests that the distinction between doing and allowing plays a critical role in shaping moral appraisals. Here, we report evidence from a pair of experiments suggesting that the converse is also true: moral appraisals affect doing/allowing judgments. Specifically, morally bad behavior is more likely to be construed as actively ‘doing’ than as passively ‘allowing’. This finding adds to a growing list of folk concepts influenced by moral appraisal, including causation and intentional action. We therefore suggest that the present finding favors the view that moral appraisal plays a pervasive role in shaping diverse cognitive representations across multiple domains.

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