Moral judgments of aggression: Personal and situational determinants



One hundred and twenty-eight women read a transcript of an interview which described either an attractive or unattractive male interviewee who aggressed against another with either a good or bad intention and with mild or severe consequences for the victim. The results of a 2 × 2 × 2 analysis of variance yielded several significant effects. Aggression committed by an attractive person and also by one who had good intentions was judged more favorably than was aggression committed by an unattractive person and by one who had bad intentions. As predicted from an attribution framework, an unattractive aggressor was seen as more likely to aggress again when his intentions were bad rather than good, whereas little difference due to varying intentions was seen in the probability of an attractive person's future aggression. However, the corresponding prediction that attractiveness would interact with intentions to affect moral judgments of aggression was not supported. The finding of an intention rather than consequence effect on judgments was discussed in terms of an attributional approach and Piaget's notions concerning moral development.