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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Antisocial Personality Traits Predict Utilitarian Responses To Moral Dilemmas

By Daniel M. Bartels and David A. Pizarro

The Mismeaure of Morals:
Anitsocial Personality Traint Predict Utilitarian Responses to Moral Dilemmas
Cognition, Volume 121, Issue 1, October 2011, pages 154-161

Researchers have recently argued that utilitarianism is the appropriate framework by which to evaluate moral judgment, and that individuals who endorse non-utilitarian solutions to moral dilemmas (involving active vs. passive harm) are committing an error. We report a study in which participants responded to a battery of personality assessments and a set of dilemmas that pit utilitarian and non-utilitarian options against each other. Participants who indicated greater endorsement of utilitarian solutions had higher scores on measures of Psychopathy, machiavellianism, and life meaninglessness. These results question the widely-used methods by which lay moral judgments are evaluated, as these approaches lead to the counterintuitive conclusion that those individuals who are least prone to moral errors also possess a set of psychological characteristics that many would consider prototypically immoral.

The first two pages of the article can be found here

Bartels, Pizarro