Dasci E (2019). Moral Biases in Intergroup Context.
Abstract: Moral Biases in Intergroup Context
Even though people perceive their moral judgements as objective and unbiased, research suggests that they in fact make biased moral decisions that are then rationalized as objective. This project aimed to build on this prior work to further investigate the effect of intergroup biases on judgments of others’ morality. In the first line of this project, I aimed to investigate whether or not moral judgments are influenced by group membership where there is no prior information, beliefs, or emotions associated with the target group (i.e. in a minimal group setting). Participants read two versions of trolley dilemmas and judge either ingroup or outgroup targets. Across four experimental studies with minimal groups, I found evidence for group biases, even though the nature of patterns obtained varied. Overall, the findings suggest that group membership has a substantial influence on moral judgments even in minimal group settings, but given the inconsistency between the patterns obtained these warrant further investigation. Then, I aimed to investigate moral biases in pre-existing groups (specifically, men and women) and the role of relevant ideologies (sexism). I specifically focused on the role of a type of sexism that directly refers to women’s morality, i.e. benevolent sexism. To further specify the role of sexism in moral judgements, I also varied the moral extremity of the action. The results indicated that benevolent sexism led to more lenient judgements of women who displayed clearly immoral actions, especially among male participants (Study 5). However, the interplay between benevolent sexism and moral extremity was not moderated by target gender, indicating that this effect is not limited to judgements of women’s actions (Study 6). In the final study, I aimed to investigate the role of hostile sexism in counter-stereotypical female actions. The results revealed that hostile sexism negatively affected moral judgements of women who behaved counter-stereotypically, but not of men who displayed the same (stereotypically male) behaviour, but this was only the case for female participants.