Is utilitarian sacrifice becoming more morally permissible?

Citation data:

Cognition, ISSN: 1873-7838, Vol: 170, Page: 95-101

Publication Year:
Usage 53
Abstract Views 45
Link-outs 8
Captures 49
Readers 48
Exports-Saves 1
Mentions 4
Blog Mentions 2
Economics Blog Mentions 1
News Mentions 1
Social Media 65
Tweets 65
Citations 2
Citation Indexes 2
Hannikainen, Ivar R; Machery, Edouard; Cushman, Fiery A
Elsevier BV
Psychology; Arts and Humanities; Social Sciences; Neuroscience
Most Recent Tweet View All Tweets
Most Recent Blog Mention
Most Recent Economics Blog Mention
Most Recent News Mention
article description
A central tenet of contemporary moral psychology is that people typically reject active forms of utilitarian sacrifice. Yet, evidence for secularization and declining empathic concern in recent decades suggests the possibility of systematic change in this attitude. In the present study, we employ hypothetical dilemmas to investigate whether judgments of utilitarian sacrifice are becoming more permissive over time. In a cross-sectional design, age negatively predicted utilitarian moral judgment (Study 1). To examine whether this pattern reflected processes of maturation, we asked a panel to re-evaluate several moral dilemmas after an eight-year interval but observed no overall change (Study 2). In contrast, a more recent age-matched sample revealed greater endorsement of utilitarian sacrifice in a time-lag design (Study 3). Taken together, these results suggest that today's younger cohorts increasingly endorse a utilitarian resolution of sacrificial moral dilemmas.