Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (2013)
We asked college students to make judgments about realistic
moral situations presented as dilemmas (which asked for an
either/or decision) vs. problems (which did not ask for such a
decision) as well as when the situation explicitly included
affectively salient language vs. non-affectively salient language.
We report two main findings. The first is that there are four
different types of cognitive strategy that subjects use in their
responses: simple reasoning, intuitive judging, cautious
reasoning, and empathic reasoning. We give operational
definitions of these types in terms of our observed data. In
addition, the four types characterized strategies not only in the
whole sample, but also in all of the subsamples in our study.
The second finding is that the intuitive judging type comprised
approximately 26% of our respondents, while about 74% of our
respondents employed one of the three styles of reasoning
named above. We think that these findings present an
interesting challenge to models of moral cognition which
predict that there is either a single, or a single most common,
strategy – especially a strategy of relying upon one’s intuitions
– that people use to think about moral situations.