Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The role of emotion in the process of moral decision making has become of interest in recent years (Haidt, 2001). At the same time, emotion researchers are beginning to understand that different basic emotion states (i.e., joy, anger) lead to different information processing styles (Aspinwall, 1998; Nabi, 2003). Skoe, Eisenberg, and Cumberland (2002) found evidence that the feeling states of anger and sympathy are present in moral judgment tasks. Unfortunately, aside from anger, Skoe et al. (2002) primarily focused on emotion terms that have not been experimentally linked to changes in information processing. This study extended the findings of Skoe et al. (2002) by finding: 1) Participants reported a decrease in feelings of positive emotions and an increase in anger and sadness in response to dilemmas used on traditional moral judgment tasks. 2) No differences were found in emotional responses between the self-oriented and other-oriented moral dilemmas. 3) Answering the reasoning sections appears to attenuate sadness on Self-Oriented moral judgment tasks and joy and surprise on Other-Oriented moral judgment tasks. 4) Gender differences were found in that females reported higher levels of sadness than males across all conditions.



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