"Living a fully ethical life involves doing the most good we can." - Peter Singer
"Common sense is not so common." - Voltaire
“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Søren Kierkegaard

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Psychopathy increases perceived moral permissibility of accidents

Young, Liane; Koenigs, Michael; Kruepke, Michael; Newman, Joseph P.
Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol 121(3), Aug 2012, 659-667.

Abstract

Psychopaths are notorious for their antisocial and immoral behavior, yet experimental studies have typically failed to identify deficits in their capacities for explicit moral judgment. We tested 20 criminal psychopaths and 25 criminal nonpsychopaths on a moral judgment task featuring hypothetical scenarios that systematically varied an actor's intention and the action's outcome. Participants were instructed to evaluate four classes of actions: accidental harms, attempted harms, intentional harms, and neutral acts. Psychopaths showed a selective difference, compared with nonpsychopaths, in judging accidents, where one person harmed another unintentionally. Specifically, psychopaths judged these actions to be more morally permissible. We suggest that this pattern reflects psychopaths' failure to appreciate the emotional aspect of the victim's experience of harm. These findings provide direct evidence of abnormal moral judgment in psychopathy.

The article is here.

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