Year of Publication
Season of Publication
College of Arts and Sciences
Master of Arts in General Psychology (MAGP)
NACO controlled Corporate Body
University of North Florida. Department of Psychology
Dr. Tracy Packiam Alloway
Dr. Jennifer Wolff
Dr. Lori Lange
Dr. Barbara A. Hetrick
Two studies were conducted to support the dual process model of moral decision making, which states that there are two pathways to moral decisions: one emotional and the other cognitive. Decisions made in personal dilemmas are driven by emotions and intuition, while decisions made in impersonal dilemmas are driven by cognitive factors. Intuitive, emotional reactions tend to lead to non-utilitarian decisions while deliberative reasoning tends to lead to utilitarian decisions. For the current studies, undergraduate students from the University of North Florida completed working memory tests, an empathy scale, and also responded to moral dilemma scenarios. In the second study, participants were asked to respond to the moral dilemma scenarios in the following conditions: baseline, working memory condition (counting task), cold water (cold pressor task), and warm water. In Study 1, participants in the high working memory group had slower reaction times while responding to self dilemmas. In Study 2, the empathy item “I feel other people’s joy” was the best predictor of participants’ utilitarian decisions. These results are framed in terms of the dual process model and possible directions for future research.
Frankenstein, Andrea, "To Kill or Not to Kill: Exploring the Roles of Empathy and Working Memory in Moral Decision Making" (2016). UNF Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 625.