Anticipatory stress interferes with utilitarian moral judgment

Starcke, Katrin GND; Ludwig, Anne-Catrin; Brand, Matthias GND

A recent study indicates that acute stress affects moral decision making (Youssef et al., in press). The current study examines whether results can be replicated using a different kind of stressor and a different kind of stress measurement. We induced stress in 25 participants with a cover-story of an anticipated speech. Another group of 25 participants was tested in a control condition. Stress levels and stress responses were assessed with questionnaires and heart rate. All participants performed a moral decision-making task describing moral dilemmas. These dilemmas were either personal or impersonal and each offered a utilitarian and a non-utilitarian option. Acutely stressed participants, compared to control participants, made fewer utilitarian judgments and needed longer for making a decision. Individual physiological stress response was related to fewer utilitarian judgments. Results are in line with those previously found although different instruments were used.

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Starcke, K., Ludwig, A.-C., Brand, M., 2018. Anticipatory stress interferes with utilitarian moral judgment. https://doi.org/10.17185/duepublico/45052
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