Two studies demonstrate that a dispositional proneness to disgust (“disgust sensitivity”) is associated with intuitive disapproval of gay people. Study 1 was based on previous research showing that people are more likely to describe a behavior as intentional when they see it as morally wrong (see Knobe, 2006, for a review). As predicted, the more disgust sensitive participants were, the more likely they were to describe an agent whose behavior had the side effect of causing gay men to kiss in (...) public as having intentionally encouraged gay men to kiss publicly— even though most participants did not explicitly think it wrong to encourage gay men to kiss in public. No such effect occurred when subjects were asked about heterosexual kissing. Study 2 used the Implicit Association Test (IAT; Nosek, Banaji, & Greenwald, 2006) as a dependent measure. The more disgust sensitive participants were, the more they showed.. (shrink)
The uniquely human emotion of disgust is intimately connected to morality in many, perhaps all, cultures. We report two studies suggesting that a predisposition to feel disgust is associated with more conservative political attitudes, especially for issues related to the moral dimension of purity. In the first study, we document a positive correlation between disgust sensitivity and self-reported conservatism in a broad sample of US adults. In Study 2 we show that while disgust sensitivity is associated with more conservative attitudes (...) on a range of political issues, this relationship is strongest for purity-related issues—specifically, abortion and gay marriage. (shrink)
Despite the wealth of recent work implicating disgust as an emotion central to human morality, the nature of the causal relationship between disgust and moral judgment remains unclear. We distinguish between three related claims regarding this relationship, and argue that the most interesting claim (that disgust is a moralizing emotion) is the one with the least empirical support.
In this paper, I review the primary arguments for the traditional position that holds emotions as antagonistic to moral judgments. I argue that this position is untenable given the information about emotions and emotional processes that has emerged in the psychological literature of recent years. I then offer a theoret- ical model of emotive moral judgment that takes a closer look at how emotions, specifically empathy, play an integral role in the process of moral judgment. I argue that emotions should (...) not be dismissed as irrelevant or harmful to moral evaluations, but that affect can actually aid moral deliberations. The emphasis here will be on moral judgments (i.e., judgments concerning the rightness or wrongness of situations, actions, or individuals); I will not deal directly with the otherwise important issue of the role of emotions in moral behavior. The em- phasis will also be on empathy, as it seems to be the most prototypical moral emotion and is certainly the most widely discussed. (shrink)
Dominant theories of moral blame require an individual to have caused or intended harm. However, across four studies we demonstrate cases where no harm is caused or intended, yet individuals are nonetheless deemed worthy of blame. Specifically, individuals are judged to be blameworthy when they engage in actions that enable them to benefit from another’s misfortune (for example, betting that a company’s stock will decline or that a natural disaster will occur). We present evidence suggesting that perceptions of the actor’s (...) wicked desires are responsible for this phenomenon. We argue that these results are consistent with a growing literature demonstrating that moral judgments are often the product of evaluations of character in addition to evaluations of acts. (shrink)
Sunstein's review of research on moral heuristics is rich and informative – even without his central claim that individuals often commit moral errors. We question the value of positing such a normative moral framework for the study of moral judgment. We also propose an alternative standard for evaluating moral judgments – that of subjective rationality.
Recent work within psychology demonstrates that unconscious cognition plays a central role in the judgments and actions of individuals. We distinguish between two basic types unconscious social cognition: unconsciousness of the influences on judgments and actions, and unconscious of the mental states that give rise to judgments and actions. Influence unconsciousness is corroborated by strong empirical evidence, but unconscious states are difficult to verify. We discuss procedures aimed at providing conclusive evidence of state unconsciousness, and apply them to recent empirical (...) findings. (shrink)
College students implicitly judge interracial sex and gay sex to be morally wrong Some moral intuitions arise from psychological processes that are not fully accessible to consciousness. For instance, most people disapprove of consensual adult incest between siblings, but are unable to articulate why—they just feel that it is wrong (Haidt, 2001). More generally, there is evidence for at least two sources of moral judgment: explicit conscious reasoning and tacit intuitions, which are motivated by emotional responses (Greene et al., 2001) (...) and learned associations (Greenwald & Banaji, 1995). (shrink)
The Meaning of Disgust is a vivid example of how interdisciplinary research can go horribly wrong. Strohminger’s criticisms serve as a good starting point to discuss some of the issues that need to be addressed by the growing number of researchers who choose to conduct interdisciplinary research in philosophy and psychology. I argue that McGinn’s approach to science in The Meaning of Disgust serves as a useful contrast to the ideal, and that it illustrates the most important virtue necessary for (...) being a good interdisciplinarian: intellectual humility. (shrink)
We address two questions regarding the relationship between political ideology and responses to threatening or aversive stimuli. The first concerns the reason for the connection between disgust and specific political and moral attitudes; the second concerns the observation that some responses to threat (i.e., neuroticism/anxiety) are associated with a moreleft-wingpolitical orientation.
We argue that Tomasello's account overlooks important psychological distinctions between how humans judge different types of moral obligations, such as prescriptive obligations (i.e., what oneshoulddo) and proscriptive obligations (i.e., what oneshould notdo). Specifically, evaluating these different types of obligations rests on different psychological inputs and has distinct downstream consequences for judgments of moral character.
Ego-justifying, group-justifying, and system-justifying motivations contribute to base-rate respect. People tend to neglect (and use) base rates when doing so allows them to draw desired conclusions about matters such as their health, the traits of their in-groups, and the fairness of the social system. Such motivations can moderate whether people rely on the rule-based versus associative strategies identified by Barbey & Sloman (B&S).