The Huron University College Journal of Learning and Motivation

Article Title

The Decision Between Action and Inaction: A Study of Moral Judgments


Emily Briggs


The present study was designed to extend the prior research of Cushman et al. (2007) by attempting to demonstrate that Canadian university students would consider moral dilemma scenarios that contained indirect harm to be more permissible than those that contained direct harm, thus providing evidence of the double effect. It was additionally believed that the double effect would be evident in both sexes, but primarily females. Participants were provided with three moral dilemma scenarios that contained either direct harm or indirect harm and where asked to decide whether the protagonist's actions within each scenario were permissible or not. The results revealed no significant interaction between sex and type of harm on moral judgment {F{\) - 1.22, p > .05). The interaction between moral judgment and the types of harm employed within the scenarios also yielded insignificant results. Conversely, a significant interaction was found between sex and moral judgment, and thus confirmed that males are more likely to deem directly harmful scenarios as permissible than females. The results were discussed in terms of the interaction between sex and the permissibility of different types of harm.

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