Moral appraisals affect doing/allowing judgments

Cognition. 2008 Jul;108(1):281-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2008.02.005. Epub 2008 Apr 2.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude*
  • Cognition*
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Morals*
  • Social Perception*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires