Moral Judgments: Studying People with Helping Professions


While a considerable amount of research is done in the field of moral psychology, to our best knowledge, no systematic study of moral judgments made by professional groups who make moral decisions as part of their occupational duties exists (e.g. firefighters, medical doctors, midwives, police officers). By their training and practice, such professionals are expected to exhibit differences in moral judgment compared to the general population. Here we report data about moral judgments of firefighters and midwives using moral dilemmas in which one person must be sacrificed in order to save more people. The study reveals that midwives and firefighters are considerably less utilitarian compared to a control group of students. Midwives almost never find the utilitarian action to be permissible. This striking result demonstrates that further understanding of the specific mechanisms involved in special professional groups’ moral judgment is needed.

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