ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (1): 128-140.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2019.00128

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Ubiquitous harm: Moral judgment in the perspective of the theory of dyadic morality

ZHAN Ze, WU Baopei()   

  1. Department of Psychology, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
  • Received:2018-04-29 Online:2019-01-15 Published:2018-11-23


The Theory of Dyadic Morality (TDM) suggests that interpersonal harm is a typical cognitive template regarding morality. The moral judgment is a combination of normative violation, negative emotion, and perceived harm. Through dyadic comparison and dyadic completion, moral judgment completes the bottom-up and top-down cognitive processing. Sometimes the moral dumbfounding phenomenon occurs if someone mistakes the perceived harm to the objective harm. The Trolley Problem is interesting but may not be in line with the prevailing moral perception as it strips away the typical cognitive template. We believe that moral judgments in different fields can be explained in the framework of TDM. Future moral judgments research adopting the TDM framework needs to consider the below aspects: seek more evidence supporting that intention and suffering affect moral judgements, conduct cross-cultural studies to generalize the dyadic moral cognitive template, inspect the unified cognitive system and the modular cognitive system dialectically, differentiate interpersonal and non-interpersonal harm, and test other related factors.

Key words: moral judgment, The Theory of Dyadic Morality, cognitive template, moral dumbfounding, The Trolley Problem

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