Easy on the mind, easy on the wrongdoer: discrepantly fluent violations are deemed less morally wrong

Cognition. 2009 Sep;112(3):462-6. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2009.06.001. Epub 2009 Jul 1.


The present experiment tested the hypothesis that discrepancies in processing fluency influence the perceived wrongness of moral violations. Participants were presented with numerous moral violations in easy or difficult to read font. For some violations experienced perceptual fluency was consistent with the fluency associated with previous violations, whereas for others it was more fluent or more disfluent. Results show that, across multiple vignettes, participants rated moral violations that were processed with discrepant fluency as less morally wrong than those processed with discrepant disfluency. The current work highlights the importance of metacognitive experiences in moral judgment and contributes to the emerging literature on the role of experiential factors in moral judgment.

MeSH terms

  • Cognition / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment / physiology*
  • Male
  • Morals*
  • Reading
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult