ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 51 ›› Issue (4): 517-526.

• Reports of Empirical Studies •

### The influence of moral relativism and disgust on moral intuitive judgment

GENG Xiaowei1(),FANG Jinru1,HAN Yanfang1,LI Zhongquan2,ZHAO Mi3,YANG Ye4

1. 1 School of Education Science, Ludong University, Yantai 264011, China
2 Department of Psychology, School of Social and Behavior Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
3 School of Ethnology and Sociology, Minzu University of China, Beijing 100081, China
4 School of Humanities, Changshu Institute of Technology, Changshu 215500, China
• Received:2018-07-17 Published:2019-04-25 Online:2019-02-22
• Contact: Xiaowei GENG E-mail:fengandwei@126.com

Abstract:

The social intuition model suggests that moral reasoning occurs after moral intuitive judgment. The question of how people make intuitive moral judgments, and whether the process is influenced by reasoning and emotion, remains to be answered. The purpose of this study is to explore the influence of moral relativism and disgust on moral intuitive judgment. According to the unimodel of human judgment, intuitive and deliberate judgments are based on similar rules. The hypotheses are as follows: moral relativism increases moral intuitive judgment (H1) and disgust increases moral intuitive judgment (H2).

We conducted three experiments to test these hypotheses. In Experiment 1, we examined whether moral intuitive judgment exists. A total of 39 undergraduates were selected and asked to answer “yes” or “no” randomly, like tossing a coin, to 20 moral behaviors, 20 immoral behaviors, and 40 fillers. The accuracy of moral judgment is compared to random level (i.e., 0.5). Accuracy greater than 0.5 was considered indicative of moral intuitive judgment. Single-sample t-test showed that the accuracy of the participants’ random responses was significantly greater than random (i.e., 0.5), indicating the existence of moral intuitions.

In Experiment 2, a total of 77 undergraduates were randomly assigned to two different conditions, i.e., moral relativism and moral absolutism. Participants were first primed moral absolutism or moral relativism by scrambling in a sentence, e.g., the scrambled sentence “as to rightness” “cannot” “different types of morality” “be compared” may be recomposed as “Different types of morality cannot be compared as to rightness”, then randomly answer “yes” or “no” to moral judgments. Independent-samples t-test showed that participants were more inclined to make moral intuitive judgments under the conditions of moral absolutism than moral relativism, which suggests that moral relativism weakens participants’ moral intuitive judgment, while moral absolutism promotes participants’ moral intuitive judgment.

In Experiment 3, a total of 80 undergraduates were randomly assigned to two different emotional conditions, i.e., disgust and neutral emotion. Participants’ disgust (or neutral emotion) were primed by eight pictures of disgusting facial expressions (or eight pictures of neutral facial expressions) before randomly answering “yes” or “no” to moral judgments. Independent-sample t-test showed that participants were more inclined to make moral intuitive judgments under the conditions of disgust emotion than neutral emotion, which suggests that moral intuition judgments are affected by emotion, and disgust increases individuals’ moral intuitive judgments.

In sum, the present research investigated the influence of moral relativism and disgust emotion on moral intuitive judgment, which helps to further understand the mechanism of moral intuitive judgment. In addition, it also provides some guidance for the daily moral judgment. The limitations and further research are also discussed.

CLC Number: