Neuroethics Publications

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

7-2015

Publication Source

Perspectives on Psychological Science

Volume

10

Issue

4

Start Page

518

Last Page

536

DOI

10.1177/1745691615583128

Abstract

The role of emotion in moral judgment is currently a topic of much debate in moral psychology. One specific claim made by many researchers is that irrelevant feelings of disgust can amplify the severity of moral condemnation. Numerous studies have found this effect, but there have also been several published failures to replicate this effect. Clarifying this issue would inform important theoretical debates between rival accounts of moral judgment. We meta-analyzed all available studies, published and unpublished, that experimentally manipulated incidental disgust prior to or concurrent with a moral judgment task (k = 50). We found that there is evidence for a small amplification effect of disgust (d = .11), which is strongest for gustatory/olfactory modes of disgust induction. However, there is also some suggestion of publication bias in this literature, and when this is accounted for, the effect disappears entirely (d = -.01). Moreover, prevalent confounds mean that the effect size that we estimate is best interpreted as an upper bound on the size of the amplification effect. The results of this meta-analysis argue against strong claims about the causal role of affect in moral judgment and suggest a need for new, more rigorous research on this topic.

Keywords

moral judgment, disgust, meta-analysis, affect, misattribution

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Date Posted: 19 June 2015

This document has been peer reviewed.