Making moral principles suit yourself.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Normative ethical theories and religious traditions offer general moral principles for people to follow. These moral principles are typically meant to be fixed and rigid, offering reliable guides for moral judgment and decision-making. In two preregistered studies, we found consistent evidence that agreement with general moral principles shifted depending upon events recently accessed in memory. After recalling their own personal violations of moral principles, participants agreed less strongly with those very principles-relative to participants who recalled events in which other people violated the principles. This shift in agreement was explained, in part, by people's willingness to excuse their own moral transgressions, but not the transgressions of others. These results have important implications for understanding the roles memory and personal identity in moral judgment. People's commitment to moral principles may be maintained when they recall others' past violations, but their commitment may wane when they recall their own violations.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Stanley, ML; Henne, P; Niemi, L; Sinnott-Armstrong, W; De Brigard, F

Published Date

  • October 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 28 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 1735 - 1741

PubMed ID

  • 33948917

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1531-5320

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1069-9384

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.3758/s13423-021-01935-8

Language

  • eng