Teper, R., Zhong, C.‐B., and Inzlicht, M. (2015)
Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 9, 1– 14,
Within the past decade, the field of moral psychology has begun to disentangle the mechanics behind moral judgments, revealing the vital role that emotions play in driving these processes. However, given the well‐documented dissociation between attitudes and behaviors, we propose that an equally important issue is how emotions inform actual moral behavior – a question that has been relatively ignored up until recently. By providing a review of recent studies that have begun to explore how emotions drive actual moral behavior, we propose that emotions are instrumental in fueling real‐life moral actions. Because research examining the role of emotional processes on moral behavior is currently limited, we push for the use of behavioral measures in the field in the hopes of building a more complete theory of real‐life moral behavior.
Long gone are the days when emotion was written off as a distractor or a roadblock to effective moral decision making. There now exists a great deal of evidence bolstering the idea that emotions are actually necessary for initiating adaptive behavior (Bechara, 2004; Damasio, 1994; Panskepp & Biven, 2012). Furthermore, evidence from the field of moral psychology points to the fact that individuals rely quite heavily on emotional and intuitive processes when engaging in moral judgments (e.g. Haidt, 2001). However, up until recently, the playing field of moral psychology has been heavily dominated by research revolving around moral judgments alone, especially when investigating the role that emotions play in motivating moral decision-making.
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