Beyond Kohlberg vs. Gilligan: Empathy and Disgust Sensitivity Mediate Gender Differences in Moral Judgments
38 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2014 Last revised: 15 Sep 2014
Date Written: August 23, 2014
A landmark debate in moral psychology concerns gender differences in moral judgment. This debate concluded that, when making moral judgments, women are primarily driven by moral concerns about caring for others, whereas men are primarily driven my moral concerns about fairness/justice. However, empirical findings have been inconsistent and limited to a “care and justice” conceptualization of morality. Using recent advances in morality research, we examine gender differences in moral judgment and emotion. Across 10 studies (including over 150,000 participants and two nationally-representative U.S. samples) we find that, relative to men, women a) have clearly stronger moral concerns related to care and purity, b) are less utilitarian, c) have a stronger sense of moral identity, and d) moralize everyday actions more. Furthermore, we show that these effects are mediated by gender differences in the emotion tendencies of empathic concern and disgust sensitivity. Finally, we show that these gender differences in moral judgment are consequential in three everyday contexts: parenting, politics, and group stereotypes.
Keywords: morality, moral judgment, gender, emotion, empathy, disgust
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation