It's moral: judgments in everyday life
by Ronja Demel
Date of Examination:2022-02-16
Date of issue:2022-03-16
Advisor:Prof. Dr. Annekathrin Schacht
Referee:Prof. Dr. Annekathrin Schacht
Referee:Prof. Dr. Michael R. Waldmann
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EnglishMoral judgments play a major role in everyday social interactions. Due to their relevance for human cognition and behavior, they have been a central object of research for centuries. However, previous studies rarely considered everyday interactions, focused almost exclusively on morally reprehensible behavior and only occasionally included relevant person characteristics. Therefore, the aim of this thesis was to use a person-centered approach and behavior that is close to real life to investigate the influences of emotion and person characteristics in moral judgments. In Study 1, a large set of morally harmful, helpful, and neutral everyday scenarios were designed and validated. Study 2 investigated how participants judge moral and neutral behavior of an agent towards another person and how this judgment is influenced by their person-dependent characteristics (i.e., their political orientation, empathy, and gender). In Study 3, conservative and progressive participants were preselected before taking part in an EEG study. It was examined whether neural responses towards and the likeability of moral agents vary based on the participants’ political orientation and the agents’ actions as well as their gender. Study 4 examined even more realistic scenarios based on actual events during the corona pandemic. Over the time course of four months, we investigated how German and Italian participants judge moral dilemmas and how these judgments are influenced by participants’ fear and age. In Study 5, a German questionnaire of political orientation was validated with the aim of creating a reliable and culturally appropriate tool to investigate the influence of political orientation in moral judgments. Overall, the results indicate that emotion and person characteristics play a vital role in moral judgments. In addition, the validated scenarios as well as the newly developed German questionnaire of political orientation provide valuable tools for future research of morality.
Keywords: moral judgments; moral scenarios; emotion; person characteristics; political orientation