Undergraduate Honors Theses

Date of Award





Joel Armstrong

Second Advisor

Dr. James Olson


Two studies were conducted to investigate the relation between individual differences in Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) and moral inclinations when responding to situations of moral conflict. In Study 1 the correlation between scores on SDO and deontological and utilitarian parameters was investigated. The results showed that SDO was significantly negatively related to deontological parameters, (r(49) = -.354, p = .013), and unrelated to utilitarian parameters (r(49) = -.104, p = .479). In Study 2 we attempted to replicate the results of Study 1 and investigate whether increasing the salience of harm in dilemmas would increase levels of deontological processing, particularly in individuals with lower levels of SDO. The results of Study 2 were mixed. The results of Study 1 were replicated, with scores on SDO being negatively related to the deontological parameter r(143) = -.173, p = .039, and unrelated to the utilitarian parameter, r(143) = -.035, p = .682, but increasing the salience of harm did not differentially affect deontological responses in participants, β = -.191, p = .365. The results of these studies extended the literature on both SDO and moral decision-making, and have implications for who may be best suited for making difficult decisions in the real world.

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