Who Shalt Not Kill? Individual Differences in Working Memory Capacity, Executive Control, and Moral Judgment

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michael J. Kane, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Recent findings suggest that exerting executive control influences responses to moral dilemmas. In our study, subjects judged how morally appropriate it would be for them to kill one person to save others. They made these judgments in 24 dilemmas that systematically varied physical directness of killing, personal risk to the subject, inevitability of the death, and intentionality of the action. All four of these variables demonstrated main effects. Executive control was indexed by scores on working-memory-capacity (WMC) tasks. People with higher WMC found certain types of killing more appropriate than did those with lower WMC and were more consistent in their judgments. We also report interactions between manipulated variables that implicate complex emotion-cognition integration processes not captured by current dual-process views of moral judgment.

Additional Information

Moore, A.B., Clark, B.A., & Kane, M.J. (2008). Who shalt not kill? Individual differences in working memory capacity, executive control, and moral judgment. Psychological Science, 19, 549-557.
Language: English
Date: 2008
Working memory, Working memory capacity, Executive control, Moral dilemmas

Email this document to