Timmons & Byrne 2018 QJEP

Shane Timmons has published several experiments from his PhD on ‘Moral fatigue: the effects of cognitive fatigue on moral reasoning’ in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, doi/abs/10.1177/1747021818772045

The abstract is as follows:

We report two experiments that show a moral fatigue effect: participants who are fatigued after they have carried out a tiring cognitive task make different moral judgements compared to participants who are not fatigued. Fatigued participants tend to judge that a moral violation is less permissible even though it would have a beneficial effect, such as killing one person to save the lives of five others. The moral fatigue effect occurs when people make a judgement that focuses on the harmful action, killing one person, but not when they make a judgement that focuses on the beneficial outcome, saving the lives of others, as shown in Experiment 1 (n = 196). It also occurs for judgements about morally good actions, such as jumping onto railway tracks to save a person who has fallen there, as shown in Experiment 2 (n = 187). The results have implications for alternative explanations of moral reasoning.

Some of the research was funded by the John Templeton Foundation.



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