Moral Updating

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Moral Updating
Monroe, Andrew E (creator)
Malle, Bertram (Director)
Krueger, Joachim (Reader)
Cushman, Fiery (Reader)
Brown University. Psychology (sponsor)
Copyright Date
Making moral judgments is commonplace in everyday life, but oftentimes the information people use to make such judgments changes with time. Today, new information about people and events changes at an unprecedented rate, and an understanding of how people make and update moral evaluations is critical for a complete account of moral judgment. This dissertation examines three questions pertaining to the phenomenon of moral updating: First, how frequently do people update their moral judgments? Second, how can we best describe the way people change their blame judgments? And third, how do people process new mental state information (e.g., reasons, intentions, preventability)? In five studies participants were provided with initial information about a norm violating event and asked to make a blame judgment. Following this, participants received new information and were invited to update their initial blame judgment. Study 1 examined the phenomenon of moral updating using text stimuli a college student sample. Study 2 replicated Study 1 with a community sample and also compared updating judgments to single moral judgments commonly studied in the moral literature. Study 3 replicated the previous studies using audio stimuli, and Studies 4 and 5 examined the effects of two forms of cognitive load on moral updating. In Study 4 participants were asked to produce a series of random taps while listening to the new information, and Study 5 loaded participants by including a social accountability manipulation. Results showed that moral updating is commonplace. Across five studies people updated their initial judgments 80% of the time. Additionally, people's updated judgments of blame systematically responded to intentionality information, the level of justification of an agent's reasons, and whether a negative event was preventable. Finally, people showed a robust effect of a RT cost when new information switched the intentionality of an event compared to when information matched people's intentionality assumptions. The results of this dissertation contribute to our understanding of a new phenomenon in moral psychology, and they show that arriving at blame judgments and updating those judgments follows a conceptual and informational structure, which has intentionality at its core.
Moral Judgment
Judgment (Ethics)
Intentionality (Philosophy)
Thesis (Ph.D. -- Brown University (2013)
xi, 137 p.


Monroe, Andrew E., "Moral Updating" (2013). Psychology Theses and Dissertations. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.