How large is the role of emotion in judgments of moral dilemmas?

Zachary Horne, Derek Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Moral dilemmas often pose dramatic and gut-wrenching emotional choices. It is now widely accepted that emotions are not simply experienced alongside people's judgments about moral dilemmas, but that our affective processes play a central role in determining those judgments. However, much of the evidence purporting to demonstrate the connection between people's emotional responses and their judgments about moral dilemmas has recently been called into question. In the present studies, we reexamined the role of emotion in people's judgments about moral dilemmas using a validated self-report measure of emotion. We measured participants' specific emotional responses to moral dilemmas and, although we found that moral dilemmas evoked strong emotional responses, we found that these responses were only weakly correlated with participants' moral judgments. We argue that the purportedly strong connection between emotion and judgments of moral dilemmas may have been overestimated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0154780
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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