The Influence of Situational Factors in Sacrificial Dilemmas on Utilitarian Moral Judgments

64 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2020

See all articles by Michael Klenk

Michael Klenk

Delft University of Technology - Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management; University of St. Gallen - Institute for Business Ethics

Date Written: December 9, 2019

Abstract

The standard way to test alternative descriptive theories of moral judgment is by asking subjects to evaluate (amongst others) sacrificial dilemmas, where acting classifies as a utilitarian moral judgment and not acting classifies as a deontological moral judgment. Previous research uncovered many situational factors that alter subject’s moral judgments without affecting which type of action utilitarianism or deontology would recommend. This literature review provides a systematic analysis of the experimental literature on the influence of situational factors on moral judgments in sacrificial dilemmas. It analyses 53 articles in detail and reports mean effect sizes, as well as operationalizations, for 32 situational factors that significantly influence moral judgment. Moreover, the review discusses how the impact of situational factors relates to a dual process theory of moral judgment. It supports the view that utilitarian judgments are driven by controlled cognitive processes and shows that the drivers of deontological judgments depend on valence.

Keywords: dual process theory, moral judgement, moral cognition, trolley problem, trolleyology

Suggested Citation

Klenk, Michael, The Influence of Situational Factors in Sacrificial Dilemmas on Utilitarian Moral Judgments (December 9, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3501289 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3501289

Michael Klenk (Contact Author)

Delft University of Technology - Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management ( email )

P.O. Box 5015
2600 GB Delft
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.michael-klenk.com

University of St. Gallen - Institute for Business Ethics ( email )

Girtannerstrasse 8
CH-9010
St.Gallen, St. Gallen 9010
Switzerland

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