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Moral dilemmas in females: children are more utilitarian than adults.

Bucciarelli M - Front Psychol (2015)

Bottom Line: This paper reports two experiments involving fifth-grade children, adolescents, and adults; the results revealed that children reason intuitively to resolve moral dilemmas in which action and inaction lead to different outcomes.In particular, the results showed female children to be more utilitarian than female adults in resolving classical moral dilemmas: they preferred an action that achieved a good outcome for a greater number of people.The result revealing that (female) children are more utilitarian than (female) adults, which is hard to explain via many current theories, was predicted by the mental model theory.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Dipartimento di Psicologia, Centro di Scienza Cognitiva, Università di Torino Torino, Italy.

ABSTRACT
Influential theories on moral judgments propose that they rely either on emotions or on innate moral principles. In contrast, the mental model theory postulates that moral judgments rely on reasoning, either intuition or deliberation. The theory allows for the possibility that intuitions lead to utilitarian judgments. This paper reports two experiments involving fifth-grade children, adolescents, and adults; the results revealed that children reason intuitively to resolve moral dilemmas in which action and inaction lead to different outcomes. In particular, the results showed female children to be more utilitarian than female adults in resolving classical moral dilemmas: they preferred an action that achieved a good outcome for a greater number of people. Within the mental model theory's framework there is no reason to expect that females and males differ in their ability to reason, but at the moment the results for females cannot be generalized to males who were not properly represented in the adults groups of the two experiments. The result revealing that (female) children are more utilitarian than (female) adults, which is hard to explain via many current theories, was predicted by the mental model theory.

No MeSH data available.


The fully explicit mental models of the anti-permissible (A) and the pro-permissible (B) versions of the dilemma. In each figure, the diagram represents the alternative possibilities on opposite sides of a continuous line.
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Figure 2: The fully explicit mental models of the anti-permissible (A) and the pro-permissible (B) versions of the dilemma. In each figure, the diagram represents the alternative possibilities on opposite sides of a continuous line.

Mentions: I assumed that in the anti-permissible versions of the dilemmas focusing is reduced and de-focusing is increased, and in the pro-permissible versions of the dilemmas focusing is increased and de-focusing is reduced. From these assumptions derives the prediction that the anti-permissible version is more likely to lead reasoners to make fully explicit the alternative possibility in which the action is not performed. Figure 2 illustrates the fully explicit mental models for both versions of the dilemma.


Moral dilemmas in females: children are more utilitarian than adults.

Bucciarelli M - Front Psychol (2015)

The fully explicit mental models of the anti-permissible (A) and the pro-permissible (B) versions of the dilemma. In each figure, the diagram represents the alternative possibilities on opposite sides of a continuous line.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4562243&req=5

Figure 2: The fully explicit mental models of the anti-permissible (A) and the pro-permissible (B) versions of the dilemma. In each figure, the diagram represents the alternative possibilities on opposite sides of a continuous line.
Mentions: I assumed that in the anti-permissible versions of the dilemmas focusing is reduced and de-focusing is increased, and in the pro-permissible versions of the dilemmas focusing is increased and de-focusing is reduced. From these assumptions derives the prediction that the anti-permissible version is more likely to lead reasoners to make fully explicit the alternative possibility in which the action is not performed. Figure 2 illustrates the fully explicit mental models for both versions of the dilemma.

Bottom Line: This paper reports two experiments involving fifth-grade children, adolescents, and adults; the results revealed that children reason intuitively to resolve moral dilemmas in which action and inaction lead to different outcomes.In particular, the results showed female children to be more utilitarian than female adults in resolving classical moral dilemmas: they preferred an action that achieved a good outcome for a greater number of people.The result revealing that (female) children are more utilitarian than (female) adults, which is hard to explain via many current theories, was predicted by the mental model theory.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Dipartimento di Psicologia, Centro di Scienza Cognitiva, Università di Torino Torino, Italy.

ABSTRACT
Influential theories on moral judgments propose that they rely either on emotions or on innate moral principles. In contrast, the mental model theory postulates that moral judgments rely on reasoning, either intuition or deliberation. The theory allows for the possibility that intuitions lead to utilitarian judgments. This paper reports two experiments involving fifth-grade children, adolescents, and adults; the results revealed that children reason intuitively to resolve moral dilemmas in which action and inaction lead to different outcomes. In particular, the results showed female children to be more utilitarian than female adults in resolving classical moral dilemmas: they preferred an action that achieved a good outcome for a greater number of people. Within the mental model theory's framework there is no reason to expect that females and males differ in their ability to reason, but at the moment the results for females cannot be generalized to males who were not properly represented in the adults groups of the two experiments. The result revealing that (female) children are more utilitarian than (female) adults, which is hard to explain via many current theories, was predicted by the mental model theory.

No MeSH data available.