More than a feeling: When emotional reactions don't predict moral judgments


Many moral psychologists have proposed that the difference between people’s moral judgments about the Trolley and Footbridge dilemmas can be explained by their differing emotional responses to the dilemmas. In two experiments, we tested this explanation by presenting the dilemmas and measuring participants’ reactions using a self-report emotion measure (PANAS-X). As might be expected, participants experienced more intense emotions after reading moral dilemmas when compared to a non-moral dilemma. However, participants’ emotional reactions to the Trolley and Footbridge dilemmas did not differ. Our findings call the oft cited emotion explanation into question.

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