Reflection and Reasoning in Moral Judgment
Article first published online: 3 NOV 2011
Copyright © 2011 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
Volume 36, Issue 1, pages 163–177, January/February 2012
How to Cite
Paxton, J. M., Ungar, L. and Greene, J. D. (2012), Reflection and Reasoning in Moral Judgment. Cognitive Science, 36: 163–177. doi: 10.1111/j.1551-6709.2011.01210.x
- Issue published online: 11 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 3 NOV 2011
- Received 4 November 2010; received in revised form 4 March 2011; accepted 18 April 2011
- Dual-process model;
- Moral decision making;
- Moral judgment;
- Moral psychology;
- Moral reasoning;
- Social intuitionist model
While there is much evidence for the influence of automatic emotional responses on moral judgment, the roles of reflection and reasoning remain uncertain. In Experiment 1, we induced subjects to be more reflective by completing the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) prior to responding to moral dilemmas. This manipulation increased utilitarian responding, as individuals who reflected more on the CRT made more utilitarian judgments. A follow-up study suggested that trait reflectiveness is also associated with increased utilitarian judgment. In Experiment 2, subjects considered a scenario involving incest between consenting adult siblings, a scenario known for eliciting emotionally driven condemnation that resists reasoned persuasion. Here, we manipulated two factors related to moral reasoning: argument strength and deliberation time. These factors interacted in a manner consistent with moral reasoning: A strong argument defending the incestuous behavior was more persuasive than a weak argument, but only when increased deliberation time encouraged subjects to reflect.