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Gender Differences in Moral Judgment and the Evaluation of Gender-Specified Moral Agents

Forthcoming in Cognitive Processing

17 Pages Posted: 31 May 2017  

Valerio Capraro

Middlesex University

Jonathan Sippel

University of Amsterdam

Date Written: May 29, 2017

Abstract

Whether, and if so, how exactly gender differences are manifested in moral judgment has recently been at the center of much research on moral decision making. Previous research suggests that women are more deontological than men in personal, but not impersonal, moral dilemmas. However, typical personal and impersonal moral dilemmas differ along two dimensions: personal dilemmas are more emotionally salient than impersonal ones and involve a violation of Kant’s practical imperative that humans must never be used as a mere means, but only as ends. Thus, it remains unclear whether the reported gender difference is due to emotional salience or to the violation of the practical imperative. To answer this question, we explore gender differences in three moral dilemmas: a typical personal dilemma, a typical impersonal dilemma, and an intermediate dilemma, which is not as emotionally salient as typical personal moral dilemmas, but contains an equally strong violation of Kant’s practical imperative. While we replicate the result that women tend to embrace deontological ethics more than men in personal, but not impersonal, dilemmas, we find no gender differences in the intermediate situation. This suggests that gender differences in these type of dilemmas are driven by emotional salience, and not by the violation of the practical imperative. Additionally, we also explore whether people think that women should behave differently than men in these dilemmas. Across all three dilemmas, we find no statistically significant differences about how people think men and women should behave.

Keywords: Gender Differences, Morality, Deontology, Consequentialism, Practical Imperative

JEL Classification: D00, D01, D03, D63, D64, D70, D74, K00, K10

Suggested Citation

Capraro, Valerio and Sippel, Jonathan, Gender Differences in Moral Judgment and the Evaluation of Gender-Specified Moral Agents (May 29, 2017). Forthcoming in Cognitive Processing. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2976447

Valerio Capraro (Contact Author)

Middlesex University ( email )

The Burroughs
London, NW4 4BT
United Kingdom

Jonathan Sippel

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

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