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Children's Moral Evaluations of Ecological Damage: The Effect of Biocentric and Anthropocentric Intentions1


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    This research was supported by a Hilldale Undergraduate Research Grant, a Vilas Research Associates Award, and a grant from the Graduate School Research Committee of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Colleen Moore, 1202 W. Johnson Street, Madison, WI 53706. E-mail:


Moral evaluations of ecologically damaging events were studied in 5th, 8th, and 11th graders and college students (N = 246). Participants made 4 kinds of judgments about 2 scenarios: decision rightness, damage rightness, blame of the decision maker, and blame of the agents causing the damage. In both scenarios, the decision maker's intentions varied (biocentric vs. anthropocentric) as did the damage severity. Overall, participants' judgments were less harsh when the decision maker had biocentric intentions and when the damage was less severe. However, there were age differences in use of intentions to judge decision rightness. The proposition that judgments of blame of the decision maker should be a joint function of decision and damage rightness was also supported.