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. 2020 Jan 9.
doi: 10.1037/pspp0000281. Online ahead of print.

Reasoning Supports Utilitarian Resolutions to Moral Dilemmas Across Diverse Measures

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Reasoning Supports Utilitarian Resolutions to Moral Dilemmas Across Diverse Measures

Indrajeet Patil et al. J Pers Soc Psychol. .

Abstract

Sacrificial moral dilemmas elicit a strong conflict between the motive to not personally harm someone and the competing motive to achieving the greater good, which is often described as the "utilitarian" response. Some prior research suggests that reasoning abilities and deliberative cognitive style are associated with endorsement of utilitarian solutions, but, as has more recently been emphasized, both conceptual and methodological issues leave open the possibility that utilitarian responses are due instead to a reduced emotional response to harm. Across 8 studies, using self-report, behavioral performance, and neuroanatomical measures, we show that individual differences in reasoning ability and cognitive style of thinking are positively associated with a preference for utilitarian solutions, but bear no relationship to harm-relevant concerns. These findings support the dual-process model of moral decision making and highlight the utility of process dissociation methods. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

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