Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
There is an ongoing debate among psychologists regarding the psychological factors underlying moral judgments. Rationalists argue that informational assumptions (i.e. ideological beliefs about how the world works) play a causal role in shaping moral judgments whereas intuitionists argue that informational assumptions are post hoc justifications for judgments made automatically by innate intuitions. In order to compare these two perspectives, the author conducted two studies in which informational assumptions related to ingroups and outgroups varied across conditions. In Study 1, political conservatives and liberals completed the moral relevance questionnaire while imagining they were in the US, Iran, or no specific country. Keeping in line with the predictions of the intuitionist perspective, the results showed that the judgments of conservatives and liberals did not significantly differ across conditions. Study 2 used a more in depth manipulation in which participants read a vignette about a government (US, Iran, or the fictional country of Kasbara) violating the rights of a minority group. As in Study 1, the results support the intuitionist perspective--the judgments of conservatives and liberals did not significantly differ across conditions. These findings play a small part in clarifying the role of informational assumptions in moral judgments.
Number of Pages
Rampy, Nolan, "Intuitions or Informational Assumptions? An Investigation of the Psychological Factors Behind Moral Judgments" (2015). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 446.