Gender Differences in Solving Moral Dilemmas: Emotional Engagement, Care and Utilitarian Orientation

Abstract

Moral sense is important for determining human behaviour. Moral sense becomes crucial in operational environments in which choices must be made that have complex moral implications in highly stressful situations. Behavioural and neuroimaging findings have shown the existence of gender-related differences in moral reasoning. The present study aimed to investigate whether gender affects moral reasoning and emotional state. We also investigated whether empathy, decision-making and emotional regulation strategies had a role in determining gender differences in solving moral dilemmas. We found that moral judgements and emotional engagement were significantly different. Women were less prone than men to accept a moral violation, such as killing someone to save their own lives and the lives of others. Furthermore, women were more emotionally involved and experienced dysphoric emotions more often than men. Our results shed light upon the mechanisms that affect moral reasoning and determine gender differences in solving moral dilemmas.

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Generated statement: The datasets generated for this study are available on request to the corresponding author, and Material are included in the manuscript/supplementary files.

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Correspondence to P. Cordellieri.

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Studies involving animal subjects. Generated statement: No animal studies are presented in this manuscript. Studies involving human subjects. Generated statement: The study was approved by the Ethics Review Board of the Department of Psychology, “La Sapienza” University of Rome. Inclusion of identifiable human data. Generated statement: No potentially identifiable human images or data is presented in this study.

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Cordellieri, P., Boccia, M., Piccardi, L. et al. Gender Differences in Solving Moral Dilemmas: Emotional Engagement, Care and Utilitarian Orientation. Psychol Stud 65, 360–369 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12646-020-00573-9

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Keywords

  • Gender moral difference
  • Moral judgment
  • Moral dilemmas
  • Moral justice