Threat Sensitivity and the Moral Condemnation of Third-Party Actions

Rhee, Joshua J. (University of Melbourne), Bastian. B. (University of Melbourne)

It is now well-established that people may differ in the domains of values that they consider to be morally important. However, little research has investigated whether differences exist in the general tendency for people to think of issues as morally relevant across domains. Using the Moral Foundations Vignettes (Clifford, 2015) we sought to identify trait-level differences in peoples’ tendency to condemn third-party actions. Over three studies (N = 467), we found that individuals who were higher in sensation-seeking were less likely to perceive actions as morally wrong across multiple moral foundation domains. In two of the said studies, this relationship was also found to be mediated by trait avoidance motivation (BIS), such that sensation-seeking was a negative predictor of BIS, and BIS was a positive predictor of seeing actions as morally wrong. Such findings suggest that an increased general tendency for moral condemnation may be associated with sensitivity to potential threats in one’s environment. I will also discuss an upcoming study investigating a prominent contemporary social explanation for why people may be more likely to engage in moral condemnation, by looking at the relationship between exposure to adverse life-events (or lack thereof), and tendency to see actions as morally wrong.


Event Timeslots (1)

—- TYREE —–
Moral Psychology Symposium