Alex Wiegmann and Michael R Waldmann (2014)

Transfer effects between moral dilemmas: A causal model theory

Cognition, 131(1):28-43.

Evaluations of analogous situations are an important source for our moral intuitions. A puzzling recent set of findings in experiments exploring transfer effects between intuitions about moral dilemmas has demonstrated a striking asymmetry. Transfer often occurred with a specific ordering of moral dilemmas, but not when the sequence was reversed. In this article we present a new theory of transfer between moral intuitions that focuses on two components of moral dilemmas, namely their causal structure and their default evaluations. According to this theory, transfer effects are expected when the causal models underlying the considered dilemmas allow for a mapping of the highlighted aspect of the first scenario onto the causal structure of the second dilemma, and when the default evaluations of the two dilemmas substantially differ. The theoryʼs key predictions for the occurrence and the direction of transfer effects between two moral dilemmas are tested in five experiments with various variants of moral dilemmas from different domains. A sixth experiment tests the predictions of the theory for how the target action in the moral dilemmas is represented. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Sponsor: German Initiative of Excellence, University of Göttingen, Germany. Recipients: No recipient indicated