Mary Parkinson and Ruth M.J. Byrne
The Quarterly Journal Of Experimental Psychology
Two experiments examine whether people reason differently about intentional and accidental violations in the moral domains of harm and purity, by examining moral responsibility and wrongness judgments for violations that affect others or the self. The first experiment shows that intentional violations are judged to be worse than accidental ones, regardless of whether they are harm or purity violations, e.g., Sam poisons his colleague versus Sam eats his dog, when participants judge how morally responsible was Sam for what he did, or how morally wrong was what Sam did. The second experiment shows that violations of others are judged to be worse than violations of the self, regardless of whether they are harm or purity violations, when their content and context is matched, e.g., on a tropical holiday Sam orders poisonous starfruit for dinner for his friend, or for himself, versus on a tropical holiday Sam orders dog meat for dinner for his friend, or for himself. Moral reasoning is influenced by whether the violation was intentional or accidental, and whether its target was the self or another person, rather than by the moral domain, such as harm or purity.
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