Psychology of Learning and Motivation

Moral Judgment and Decision Making

Edited by

  • Daniel Bartels, University of Chicago, IL, USA
  • Christopher Bauman, Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, Evanston, IL, USA
  • Linda Skitka, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA
  • Douglas Medin, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

Series Editor:

  • Brian Ross, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA

This volume presents a variety of perspectives from within and outside moral psychology.  Recently there has been an explosion of research in moral psychology, but it is one of the subfields most in need of bridge-building, both within and across areas.  Interests in moral phenomena have spawned several separate lines of research that appear to address similar concerns from a variety of perspectives.  The contributions to this volume examine key theoretical and empirical issues these perspectives share that connect these issues with the broader base of theory and research in social and cognitive psychology.


The first two chapters discuss the role of mental representation in moral judgment and reasoning.  Sloman, Fernbach, and Ewing argue that causal models are the canonical representational medium underlying moral reasoning, and Mikhail offers an account that makes use of linguistic structures and implicates legal concepts.  Bilz and Nadler follow with a discussion of the ways in which laws, which are typically construed in terms of affecting behavior, exert an influence on moral attitudes, cognition, and emotions.


Baron and Ritov follow with a discussion of how people's moral cognition is often driven by law-like rules that forbid actions and suggest that value-driven judgment is relatively less concerned by the consequences of those actions than some normative standards would prescribe.  Iliev et al. argue that moral cognition makes use of both rules and consequences, and review a number of laboratory studies that suggest that values influence what captures our attention, and that attention is a powerful determinant of judgment and preference.  Ginges follows with a discussion of how these value-related processes influence cognition and behavior outside the laboratory, in high-stakes, real-world conflicts.


Two subsequent chapters discuss further building blocks of moral cognition.  Lapsley and Narvaez discuss the development of moral characters in children, and Reyna and Casillas offer a memory-based account of moral reasoning, backed up by developmental evidence.  Their theoretical framework is also very relevant to the phenomena discussed in the Sloman et al., Baron and Ritov, and Iliev et al. chapters.


The final three chapters are centrally focused on the interplay of hot and cold cognition.  They examine the relationship between recent empirical findings in moral psychology and accounts that rely on concepts and distinctions borrowed from normative ethics and decision theory.  Connolly and Hardman focus on bridge-building between contemporary discussions in the judgment and decision making and moral judgment literatures, offering several useful methodological and theoretical critiques.  Ditto, Pizarro, and Tannenbaum argue that some forms of moral judgment that appear objective and absolute on the surface are, at bottom, more about motivated reasoning in service of some desired conclusion.  Finally, Bauman and Skitka argue that moral relevance is in the eye of the perceiver and emphasize an empirical approach to identifying whether people perceive a given judgment as moral or non-moral.  They describe a number of behavioral implications of people's reported perception that a judgment or choice is a moral one, and in doing so, they suggest that the way in which researchers carve out the moral domain a priori might be dubious.

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Researchers and students in cognitive psychology.


Book information

  • Published: January 2009
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-374488-3

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Causal Models: The Representational Infrastructure for Moral Judgment

Steven A. Sloman, Philip M. Fernbach, and Scott Ewing


Chapter 2

Moral Grammar and Intuitive Jurisprudence: A Formal Model of Unconscious Moral and Legal Knowledge

John Mikhail


Chapter 3

Law, Psychology, and Morality

Kenworthey Bilz and Janice Nadler


Chapter 4

Protected Values and Omission Bias as Deontological Judgments

Jonathan Baron and Ilana Ritov


Chapter 5

Attending to Moral Values

Rumen Iliev, Sonya Sachdeva, Daniel M. Bartels, Craig Joseph, Satoru Suzuki, and Douglas L. Medin


Chapter 6

Noninstrumental Reasoning over Sacred Values: An Indonesian Case Study

Jeremy Ginges and Scott Atran


Chapter 7

Development and Dual Processes in Moral Reasoning: A Fuzzy-trace Theory Approach

Valerie F. Reyna and Wanda Casillas


Chapter 8

Moral Identity, Moral Functioning, and the Development of Moral Character

Darcia Narvaez and Daniel K. Lapsley


Chapter 9

"Fools Rush In": A JDM Perspective on the Role of Emotions in Decisions, Moral and Otherwise


Chapter 10

Motivated Moral Reasoning

Peter H. Ditto, David A. Pizarro, and David Tannenbaum


Chapter 11

In the Mind of the Perceiver: Psychological Implications of Moral Conviction

Christopher W. Bauman and Linda J. Skitka