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In sacrificial dilemmas where causing harm maximizes outcomes, people rate judges who reject outcome-maximizing harm as more trustworthy, warm, and moral—but less competent and leader-like—than judges who endorse such harm. However, laypeople may arrive at different inferences if they incorporate target social identity information (e.g., religious) when forming expectations about moral decisions, especially if a target violates expectations. In the current work, we explored whether people accurately incorporate information about a targets’ religiosity into their expectations regarding that person’s judgments. Moreover, we examined how such expectations influence perceptions of religious judges who do or do not make sacrificial judgments consistent with expectations. In six studies (N = 2,386), participants expected religious targets to reject harm in sacrificial dilemmas more often than neutral or atheistic targets, consistent with how religious people tend to respond to sacrificial dilemmas. This expectation negatively influenced competence perceptions of religious judges who accepted harm in dilemmas: Religious judges who accepted sacrificial harm—be they Christian, Muslim, or of unspecified religious affiliation—did not receive the typical boost to competence, suggesting that violating expectations based on religious values communicates a sort of cluelessness. Moreover, atheist targets who violated expectations did not take hits to either competence or morality, suggesting that the pattern is not simply a general pattern for any expectation-violating target. Together, findings suggest that lay perceivers accurately use social identity information such as religiosity predict others’ moral judgments, and violating these expectations can negatively impact social perceptions of the judge in ways that undercut strategic self-presentation in dilemmas.
Moral dilemmas, Moral judgment, Religiosity, Social evaluation, Social identity
Date of Defense
November 12, 2020.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Paul Conway, Professor Directing Dissertation; Amy M. Burdette, University Representative; Jon K. Maner, Committee Member; E. Ashby Plant, Committee Member; Chris Schatschneider, Committee Member.
Florida State University
Reynolds, C. J. (C. J. ). (2020). You Will Know Them by Their Fruit: Expectations and Perceptions of Religious People's Moral Judgments. Retrieved from https://purl.lib.fsu.edu/diginole/2020_Summer_Fall_Reynolds_fsu_0071E_16270