ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

The moral sense is among the most complex aspects of the human mind. Despite substantial evidence confirming gender-related neurobiological and behavioral differences, and psychological research suggesting gender specificities in moral development, whether these differences arise from cultural effects or are innate remains unclear. In this study, we investigated the role of gender, education (general education and health education) and religious belief (Catholic and non-Catholic) on moral choices by testing 50 men and 50 women with a moral judgment task. Whereas we found no differences between the two genders in utilitarian responses to non-moral dilemmas and to impersonal moral dilemmas, men gave significantly more utilitarian answers to personal moral (PM) dilemmas (i.e., those courses of action whose endorsement involves highly emotional decisions). Cultural factors such as education and religion had no effect on performance in the moral judgment task. These findings suggest that the cognitive-emotional processes involved in evaluating PM dilemmas differ in men and in women, possibly reflecting differences in the underlying neural mechanisms. Gender-related determinants of moral behavior may partly explain gender differences in real-life involving power management, economic decision-making, leadership and possibly also aggressive and criminal behaviors.
Content may be subject to copyright.
RESEARCH REPORT
Gender-related differences in moral judgments
M. Fumagalli
Æ
R. Ferrucci
Æ
F. Mameli
Æ
S. Marceglia
Æ
S. Mrakic-Sposta
Æ
S. Zago
Æ
C. Lucchiari
Æ
D. Consonni
Æ
F. Nordio
Æ
G. Pravettoni
Æ
S. Cappa
Æ
A. Priori
Received: 2 April 2009 / Accepted: 10 August 2009 / Published online: 30 August 2009
Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag 2009
Abstract The moral sense is among the most complex
aspects of the human mind. Despite substantial evidence
confirming gender-related neurobiological and behavioral
differences, and psychological research suggesting gender
specificities in moral development, whether these
differences arise from cultural effects or are innate remains
unclear. In this study, we investigated the role of gender,
education (general education and health education) and
religious belief (Catholic and non-Catholic) on moral
choices by testing 50 men and 50 women with a moral
judgment task. Whereas we found no differences between
the two genders in utilitarian responses to non-moral
dilemmas and to impersonal moral dilemmas, men gave
significantly more utilitarian answers to personal moral
(PM) dilemmas (i.e., those courses of action whose
endorsement involves highly emotional decisions). Cul-
tural factors such as education and religion had no effect on
performance in the moral judgment task. These findings
suggest that the cognitive–emotional processes involved in
evaluating PM dilemmas differ in men and in women,
possibly reflecting differences in the underlying neural
mechanisms. Gender-related determinants of moral
behavior may partly explain gender differences in real-life
involving power management, economic decision-making,
leadership and possibly also aggressive and criminal
behaviors.
Keywords Moral judgment Morality Utilitarianism
Gender differences
Introduction
The moral sense is central to the human mind and crucial in
determining human behavior. Whereas philosophers have
been speculating about the origin and determinants of
morality since antiquity (Thomson 1986), psychological
interest began in the 1960s and scientific investigation into
the neurological mechanisms underlying moral choice
began only recently.
M. Fumagalli R. Ferrucci F. Mameli S. Marceglia
S. Mrakic-Sposta S. Zago A. Priori (&)
Dipartimento di Scienze Neurologiche, Fondazione IRCCS
Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Mangiagalli e Regina Elena,
Universita
`di Milano, Via F. Sforza, 35, Milan 20122, Italy
e-mail: alberto.priori@unimi.it
M. Fumagalli R. Ferrucci F. Mameli S. Marceglia
S. Mrakic-Sposta A. Priori
Centro Clinico per le Neuronanotecnologie e la
Neurostimolazione, Fondazione IRCCS Ospedale Maggiore
Policlinico, Mangiagalli e Regina Elena, Milan, Italy
M. Fumagalli R. Ferrucci F. Mameli S. Marceglia
S. Mrakic-Sposta S. Zago A. Priori
Unita
`Operativa di Neurologia, Fondazione IRCCS Ospedale
Maggiore Policlinico, Mangiagalli e Regina Elena, Milan, Italy
C. Lucchiari G. Pravettoni
Dipartimento di Scienze Sociali e Politiche, Centro
interdipartimentale di Ricerca e Intervento sui Processi
Decisionali (IRIDe), Universita
`di Milano, Milan, Italy
D. Consonni F. Nordio
Unita
`di Epidemiologia, Fondazione IRCCS Ospedale Maggiore
Policlinico, Mangiagalli e Regina Elena, Milan, Italy
F. Nordio
Dipartimento di Clinica Medica, Nefrologia e Scienze della
Prevenzione, Universita
`degli Studi, Parma, Italy
S. Cappa
Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Centro di Neuroscienze
Cognitive, Istituto Scientifico San Raffaele,
Universita
`Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy
123
Cogn Process (2010) 11:219–226
DOI 10.1007/s10339-009-0335-2
Philosophical and psychological studies have different
objectives. Whereas philosophers are interested in devel-
oping a normative theory, psychologists primarily want to
describe moral development and behavior. Without pur-
suing philosophers’ more ambitious goal of giving a
complete normative account, psychological studies aim to
pinpoint the major specific factors.
The groundwork of moral psychology hinges on the
theories proposed by Piaget and Kohlberg. Piaget’s psy-
chological theory assumes that moral stages are universal
and their development is invariable (Piaget 1932). In
addition, Kohlberg’ theory assumes that morality is uni-
versal, equal for men and women and for all cultures
(Kohlberg 1964). This idea has nevertheless been repeat-
edly questioned; the role of factors such as gender, edu-
cation and religion opens the more general question about
innateness of morality (Dupoux and Jacob 2007; Hauser
et al. 2007).
One of the major factors considered in evaluating moral
reasoning and behavior is gender. According to ‘‘common
sense’’, women were described as inclined to sentimen-
talism, to intuition and to emotion. Terms such as ‘‘angel of
the hearth’’ convey an idea of women characterized by
feelings, vocation to motherhood and care and empathy.
Despite this cliche
´, history contradicts this motherly image.
Take for example witches, prostitutes, and son-killers.
Even Kohlberg himself identified a strong interpersonal
bias in the women’s moral judgments. Other researchers
also questioned the possibility of a sex-related bias in
Kohlberg’s theory (Gilligan 1982; Haan 1975; Holstein
1976). In particular, Gilligan pointed out that the Kohlberg
model considers justice as the fundamental principle for
moral behavior and penalizes women, according to whom
the central moral problem is the conflict between self and
other. Whereas men solve moral dilemmas in a rational
way, respecting law and order, women are driven by
emotion, empathy and care for others. These differences
led Gilligan to describe two divergent modes of moral
reasoning: an ethic of care and an ethic of justice (Gump
et al. 2000). Other studies confirmed these differences in
various tests for evaluating moral judgment (Aldrich and
Kage 2003; Bjorklund 2003; Eisenman 1967; Gump et al.
2000; Indick et al. 2000;Skoe1995). Despite these reports,
others found no gender differences (Brabeck and Shore
2003; Jaffee and Hyde 2000; Keasey 1972; Lifton 1985;
McGraw and Bloomfield 1987), leaving this topic open to
debate.
In the neuroscience field, neuroimaging (Greene and
Haidt 2002; Greene et al. 2001,2004) and lesional studies
in patients with focal brain lesions (Koenigs et al. 2007)
have now documented the neurobiological determinants of
moral behavior. Except for Harenski et al. (2008) who
studied the neural correlates of moral sensitivity in females
and males and found greater posterior cingulate cortex and
anterior insula activation in females, and greater inferior
parietal cortex activation in males, these studies neglected
to consider the gender factor.
Research, expanding gender factors to other fields of
psychology, disclosed gender differences in empathic
ability (Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright 2004; Eisenberg
2005) and in other functions having a causal role in moral
judgment, such as emotions (Aleman and Swart 2008;
Hareli et al. 2009). These differences correlate also with
the well-documented gender differences in brain structures
(Cahill 2006; Gur et al. 1999; Luders et al. 2002; Raz et al.
2004; Tranel et al. 2005), neurotransmitter systems (Cahill
2006), cognitive performance (Bolla et al. 2004; Kimura
1996; Overman et al. 2004,2006; Overman 2004; Reavis
and Overman 2001; Vecchi and Girelli 1998; Voyer and
Saunders 2004) and brain activation during cognitive tasks
(Bell et al. 2006; Fischer et al. 2004; Lee et al. 2005; Weiss
et al. 2003).
Among other factors influencing moral judgment is
education. Several studies investigated its role in relation to
age, specifically in college students, and to a lesser extent,
graduate students (Rest et al. 1999; Thoma 1993). Studying
both undergraduate and graduate students, Maeda et al.
(2009) found that students in medical schools give higher
average moral judgment levels than students in business
and other majors. These results suggested that such schools
are preparing students for a profession or calling that is
essentially a moral enterprise that serves as an environ-
mental factor that influences level of moral judgment
(Bebeau and Monson 2008).
Among the few studies interested in addressing the
relation between religion and morality, Hauser et al. (2007)
found no differences in moral judgment according to reli-
gious affiliation.
Moral judgment depends also crucially on cognitive and
emotional processes. In their recent research about neural
basis of morality, Greene et al. (2001) investigated this
topic according to the utilitarian theory stating that an
action is morally right if it produces the highest utility of
any available alternative action. The morality and duty of
an act were irrelevant. In this perspective, Greene distin-
guished between ‘‘personal’’ and ‘‘impersonal’’ moral
actions, on the basis of the dual-process theory (Greene
2009; Greene et al. 2001; McGuire et al. 2009). This theory
distinguishes a fast, unconscious and effortless affective
system and a slow, conscious and effortful cognitive sys-
tem. Whereas the affective system is activated by personal
moral (PM) judgments, cognitive system is preferentially
activated by impersonal conflicts. The term ‘‘utilitarian
responses’’ denotes the decision to perform an action
directed toward achieving the greatest advantage and the
minimum disadvantage for aggregate welfare. People
220 Cogn Process (2010) 11:219–226
123
usually choose this course of action when faced with a non-
moral (NM) choice (for example, choosing to take the train
instead of bus to avoid arriving late at an important
meeting), or an emotionally non-salient decision. Con-
versely, when choice involves, for example, inflicting
direct harm to one person to save the lives of others (a PM
dilemma), most people decide against the action or to
endorse it (utilitarian response) only after a high emotional
conflict.
Previous research in moral judgments, therefore, leaves
gender-related differences and the relation between this
factor and education and religion unclear. Neither does it
specify the role of reason and emotion in the complex
decisional processing involved in moral judgment nor can
it be modulated by gender, religion and education. Having
more complete information is essential in understanding
the role of culture and nature in moral thinking and
behavior.
We designed this study to find out whether moral
judgments differ between genders and differ according to
cultural factors such as religious belief and education. To
do so, we evaluated moral judgments with a computer-
controlled procedure, the moral judgment task, testing NM,
impersonal moral (IM) and PM dilemmas (Greene et al.
2001,2004; Koenigs et al. 2007). As dependent variables,
we assessed response times (RTs) and percentage of utili-
tarian responses. Utilitarian responses were defined as the
decision to perform an action directed toward achieving the
greatest advantage and the minimum disadvantage for
aggregate welfare.
Materials and methods
Participants
One hundred healthy volunteers (50 males and 50 females,
aged 20–32 years; education 14–22 years; Table 1) par-
ticipated in the study. Subjects were recruited from among
students at the University of Milan and received no reward
for taking part in the experiments. All participants spoke
native Italian, were right handed and had no history of
neurological or psychiatric disorders. All participants gave
their informed consent and the procedures were approved
by the local ethical committee. The experimental procedure
was in accordance with the declaration of Helsinki.
We distinguished between Catholics and non-Catholics
by asking subjects about their religious belief. The non-
Catholic group included both agnostics and atheists. We
also distinguished between health education and general
education in agreement with how the degree courses are
subdivided at the Italian Department for Education, Uni-
versity and Research.
Moral judgment task
We used the moral judgment task proposed by Greene and
colleagues (Fumagalli et al. 2009; Greene et al. 2001,
2004). We used a battery of 30 practical dilemmas ran-
domly extracted from 60 scenarios (Greene et al. 2004)
translated into Italian. The task consisted of 20 NM
dilemmas and two classes of ‘‘moral’’ scenarios subdivided
into IM (18 scenarios) and PM (22 scenarios) dilemmas.
RTs and percentage of utilitarian responses were recorded.
In agreement with the utilitarian theory, we distin-
guished utilitarian and non-utilitarian responses. A utili-
tarian response implies judging actions by their ability to
maximize good consequences, so that any harm to one
person can be justified by a greater gain to others: indi-
viduals’ interests can be sacrificed for the sake of the
community.
Procedure section
The experimental procedure took 30 min for each subject.
After participants gave their informed consent, we asked
about age, school and religious belief. We evaluated
handedness using the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory
(Oldfield 1971) and we also ensured the absence of neu-
rological and psychiatric diseases. Subjects were seated in
a quiet room in front of a personal computer.
The moral judgment task was administered in accor-
dance with Koenigs et al. (2007). Each dilemma was pre-
sented in a series of three screens of text. The first two
screens each presented a paragraph describing the context
and details of the dilemma. The third screen posed a
question about a hypothetical action related to the scenario
(‘‘Would youin order to?’’). Participants were allowed
to read through screens 1 and 2 at their own pace, pressing
the space bar to advance to the next screen. In the third
screen, participants had a maximum of 25 s to read the
final question and press the left (YES) or the right (NO)
mouse button (Fig. 1). Stimuli were presented on a
Table 1 Demographic data
Gender Education Religion NAge
Mean (±SE)
Female Health Catholic 16 23.25 (0.83)
Non-Catholic 9 24.11 (0.93)
General Catholic 13 24.92 (0.82)
Non-Catholic 12 22.41 (0.65)
Male Health Catholic 17 26.82 (1.50)
Non-Catholic 8 24.00 (0.85)
General Catholic 9 24.66 (1.04)
Non-Catholic 16 24.75 (0.80)
SE standard error
Cogn Process (2010) 11:219–226 221
123
personal computer screen using E-Prime Version 1.1
(Psychology Software Tools, Inc, Pittsburgh, USA).
Impersonal moral dilemmas included the following exam-
ple: You are at the wheel of a runaway trolley quickly
approaching a fork in the tracks. On the tracks extending to
the left is a group of five railway workmen. On the tracks
extending to the right is a single railway workman. If you
do nothing the trolley will proceed to the left, causing the
deaths of the five workmen. The only way to avoid the
deaths of these workmen is to hit a switch on your dash-
board that will cause the trolley to proceed to the right,
causing the death of the single workman. Would you hit the
switch in order to avoid the deaths of the five workmen?
Personal moral dilemmas included the following: A run-
away trolley is heading down the tracks toward five
workmen who will be killed if the trolley proceeds on its
present course. You are on a footbridge over the tracks, in
between the approaching trolley and the five workmen.
Next to you on this footbridge is a stranger who happens to
be very large. The only way to save the lives of the five
workmen is to push this stranger off the bridge and onto the
tracks below where his large body will stop the trolley. The
stranger will die if you do this, but the five workmen will be
saved. Would you push the stranger on to the tracks in
order to save the five workmen? Among the non-moral
dilemmas was the following example: You are a farm
worker driving a turnip-harvesting machine. You are
approaching two diverging paths. By choosing the path on
the left you will harvest ten bushels of turnips. By choosing
the path on the right you will harvest twenty bushels of
turnips. If you do nothing your turnip-harvesting machine
will turn to the left. Would you turn your turnip-picking
machine to the right in order to harvest twenty bushels of
turnips instead of ten?
Data analysis
We analyzed the effect of three factors on task perfor-
mance: gender, religious belief and education. Gender
differences in the percentage of utilitarian responses given
for each scenario type (NM, IM, PM) were tested using a
four-way between subjects analysis of variance (ANOVA)
with the factors gender (males, females), religion (Catholic,
non-Catholic), education (health, general) and type of
dilemma (NM, IM, PM).
Response times were collected as RTs for utilitarian
responses (mean utilitarian RTs for each type of dilemmas
for each subject) and non-utilitarian RTs (mean non-utili-
tarian RTs for each type of dilemmas for each subject). To
evaluate between-group differences in utilitarian and non-
utilitarian RTs we used a five-way between subjects
ANOVA with gender (males, females), education (health,
general), religion (Catholic, non-Catholic), utilitarian or
non-utilitarian responses and type of dilemma (NM, IM,
PM) as factors. Bonferroni corrected ttests were used for
post hoc analysis. We checked the normality assumption
for all the response variables with skewness and kurtosis
test for normality. A two-tailed Pvalue \0.05 was con-
sidered statistically significant. All statistical analyses were
performed in STATISTICA (StatSoft, Inc, Tulsa, USA).
Results
Gender had a highly significant effect on percentage utili-
tarian responses (F
2,176
=3.78, P=0.0248). Post hoc
analysis showed that despite no differences in IM and NM
responses, utilitarian responses to PM dilemmas were sig-
nificantly more frequent in men than in women [t(98) =
-3.28, P=0.0014; Fig. 2]. Conversely, no differences
were found in RTs for utilitarian and non-utilitarian
responses between the two sexes for the same class of
dilemmas. Education and religious beliefs neither had
significant effect on RTs for utilitarian and non-utilitarian
responses or on utilitarian response percentages, nor did
they significantly interact with gender (Tables 2,3,4).
Discussion
The first finding in our study is that moral judgments differ
between genders. We found that responses to PM dilemmas
differ specifically and selectively in men and in women,
showing that gender-related differences in moral judgment
specifically influence those dilemmas involving emotion-
ally salient actions. Under these circumstances, men more
frequently make a ‘‘pragmatic’’ choice regardless of putt-
ing others at risk of danger or harm. The prevalence of
Fig. 1 Task sequence representative of personal moral dilemma. The
sequence is the same for non-moral and impersonal moral dilemmas
222 Cogn Process (2010) 11:219–226
123
non-utilitarian responses to PM dilemmas in females sup-
ports the gender-related distinction between ethics of care
and ethics of justice proposed by Gilligan (1982). These
findings may be connected to the gender-differences in
empathic ability (Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright 2004;
Eisenberg 2005) that make females more resistant to
decisions that despite being rationally viable entail directly
inflicting physical or moral pain to other individuals.
Hence, female moral reasoning seems directed to avoid
harming other people, to place high value on social rela-
tionships and to fulfill other individuals’ expectations.
Conversely, male moral thought hinges on the abstract
principles of justice and fairness and on an individualistic
stance (Jaffee and Hyde 2000;Rest1979). Overall, our
findings support Greene’s dual-process theory, confirming
that non-utilitarian choices in response to PM dilemmas are
driven more by emotions than by cognition. Whether
gender differences in behavioral measures arise from cul-
tural effects or reflect innate differences remains unclear.
Although the answer is probably more complex than the
traditional dichotomous nature-nurture debate envisages
(Lippa 2005), several observations support a possible role
of neural mechanisms in clarifying this question.
Unlike gender, cultural factors such as education and
religious belief had no effect on how the university stu-
dents we studied performed the moral judgment task.
Hence, we conjecture that gender differences are probably
Fig. 2 Percentage of utilitarian responses in males and females in the
moral judgment task. Error bars are standard error of the mean. We
used three classes of stimuli: non-moral dilemmas (NM, 20 scenarios),
impersonal moral dilemmas (IM, 18 scenarios) and personal moral
dilemmas (PM, 22 scenarios). Sex influenced the percentage of
utilitarian responses (F
2,176
=3.78, P=0.0248). Although ANOVA
disclosed no differences between impersonal moral and non-moral
responses, utilitarian responses in personal moral dilemmas were
significantly more frequent in men than in women [t(98) =-3.28,
P=0.0014]
Table 2 Percentage of utilitarian responses as function of gender, education and religion
% of Utilitarian responses NNon-moral Personal moral Impersonal moral
Gender Education Religion Mean (±SE) Mean (±SE) Mean (±SE)
Female Health Catholic 16 88.75 (1.80) 25.38 (3.51) 77.71 (3.24)
Non-Catholic 9 87.78 (3.24) 22.22 (5.05) 69.14 (3.60)
General Catholic 13 82.31 (3.43) 29.76 (4.83) 69.85 (3.43)
Non-Catholic 12 90.00 (2.75) 32.32 (5.61) 69.87 (5.65)
Male Health Catholic 17 83.53 (2.42) 37.14 (4.03) 78.02 (3.52)
Non-Catholic 8 85.00 (4.23) 39.77 (9.09) 71.84 (6.33)
General Catholic 9 85.56 (3.77) 39.06 (6.28) 70.03 (5.28)
Non-Catholic 16 89.38 (1.93) 40.97 (4.48) 81.63 (3.81)
SE standard error
Table 3 Reaction times of utilitarian responses as function of gender, education and religion
RTs utilitarian responses NNon-moral Personal moral Impersonal moral
Gender Education Religion Mean (±SE) Mean (±SE) Mean (±SE)
Female Health Catholic 16 4311.23 (249.04) 3889.62 (565.33) 3020.67 (210.55)
Non-Catholic 9 4273.68 (409.55) 4259.94 (1206.41) 3485.65 (678.61)
General Catholic 13 4403.48 (421.38) 4938.99 (514.18) 3358.08 (327.24)
Non-Catholic 12 4100.29 (355.48) 3990.96 (613.28) 3334.79 (385.18)
Male Health Catholic 17 4296.30 (300.18) 3713.75 (316.05) 3490.63 (348.59)
Non-Catholic 8 5273.59 (814.23) 4001.69 (667.2) 3986.67 (420.25)
General Catholic 9 3745.79 (303.87) 3592.43 (339.44) 2764.19 (166.19)
Non-Catholic 16 4274.29 (286.14) 4517.52 (711.31) 3841.40 (364.41)
SE standard error, RTs reaction times
Cogn Process (2010) 11:219–226 223
123
better explained by biological than by cultural differences.
In a neurophysiological perspective, Greene et al. (2004)
underline that assessment of moral dilemmas involves
brain areas associated with social–emotional and cognitive
processes such as affect, motivation, working memory,
abstract reasoning and problem solving. They also show
that brain activation patterns differ in the three classes of
dilemmas, and also in utilitarian and non-utilitarian
responses to PM dilemmas. In discussing the findings from
their lesional study, Koenigs et al. (2007) concluded that a
combination of intuitive–affective and conscious–rational
mechanisms operate to produce moral judgment, contrib-
uting in different proportion to moral choices. The fact that
patients with bilateral ventromedial prefrontal cortex
(VMPFC) lesions are more utilitarian than healthy subjects
in judging PM dilemmas suggests that the VMPFC is a
critical area in solving moral conflict in which social
emotions are relevant (Koenigs et al. 2007). This portion of
the frontal cortex may be the site of sex-related differences
in moral sense. In line with this conclusion, Tranel et al.
(2005) found gender-related differences in the pattern of
left–right asymmetry in the VMPFC. Several anatomical
studies also showed gender-related differences in the
frontal lobe. For example, women have a larger dorsolat-
eral prefrontal cortex (Chen et al. 2007; Schlaepfer et al.
1995; Sowell et al. 2007) and more gray matter in the
orbitofrontal (Gur et al. 1999) and in the left ventral frontal
cortex whereas men have thicker right orbitofrontal corti-
ces (Sowell et al. 2007). Another factor that might explain
the sex-related difference in moral sense is the specificity
of neurotransmitter systems or of hormonal stimulation
(Cahill 2006). Our hypothesis about gender-related differ-
ences in morality receives support also from a recent
functional neuroimaging study (Harenski et al. 2008).
Whatever the explanation, our new findings showing
gender-related differences in moral sense suggest that
previous studies need reappraising. For instance, a given
frontal lobe lesion might induce a different moral behavior
in men and women, and the pattern of functional brain
changes during a moral task might differ between genders.
Our findings should nevertheless offer a good starting point
to explain, for example, the gender-related inclination to
specific job classes, attitudes toward leadership and power
management and criminal behaviors. They may also pro-
vide clues as to why men are physically and verbally more
aggressive than women (Archer 2004; Buss and Perry
1992; Greenfeld and Snell 1999), and why crime statistics
in several countries (Australian Institute of Criminology
2007; Home Office 2002,2003; Sabol et al. 2007) report
that the female percentage of total inmates is 6–7%, irre-
spective of nationality, culture, religion and age.
In conclusion, our study showed the existence of gender-
related differences in moral behavior in young adults.
Whether and how these differences can change at different
ages should be matter of further, specifically designed
studies.
Acknowledgments Manuela Fumagalli was supported by Univer-
sity of Milan, Department of Neurological Sciences grant. Roberta
Ferrucci was supported by FISM-Fondazione Italiana Sclerosi Mul-
tipla—Cod. 2007/R/13.
References
Aldrich D, Kage R (2003) Mars and Venus at twilight: a critical
investigation of moralism, age effects, and sex differences. Pol
Psychol 24:23–40
Aleman A, Swart M (2008) Sex differences in neural activation to
facial expressions denoting contempt and disgust. PLoS One
3:e3622
Archer J (2004) Sex differences in aggression in real-world settings: a
meta-analytic review. Rev Gen Psychol 8:291–322
Australian Institute of Criminology (2007) Australian crime: facts and
figures 2006. AIC, Canberra
Baron-Cohen S, Wheelwright S (2004) The empathy quotient: an
investigation of adults with Asperger syndrome or high
Table 4 Reaction times of non-utilitarian responses as function of gender, education and religion
RTs non-utilitarian responses NNon-moral Personal moral Impersonal moral
Gender Education Religion Mean (±SE) Mean (±SE) Mean (±SE)
Female Health Catholic 16 5309.00 (798.53) 3250.22 (213.56) 2933.19 (301.94)
Non-Catholic 9 5492.43 (1061.65) 3364.37 (401.43) 3048.91 (351.88)
General Catholic 13 5467.64 (307.36) 3395.46 (253.3) 3740.54 (357.00)
Non-Catholic 12 5613.57 (715.84) 3472.36 (281.57) 4318.49 (592.36)
Male Health Catholic 17 6683.13 (1134.21) 3531.19 (316.61) 3365.26 (381.46)
Non-Catholic 8 7177.57 (1575.71) 4023.5 (595.84) 4243.42 (988.24)
General Catholic 9 5030.64 (1296.77) 2997.88 (185.22) 3574.24 (288.11)
Non-Catholic 16 6634.75 (1303.74) 3794.65 (439.23) 3800.25 (468.93)
SE standard error, RTs reaction times
224 Cogn Process (2010) 11:219–226
123
functioning autism, and normal sex differences. J Autism Dev
Disord 34:163–175
Bebeau MJ, Monson BE (2008) Guided by theory, grounded in
evidence: a way forward for professional ethics education. In:
Nucci LP, Narvaez D (eds) Handbook of moral and character
education. Routledge, New York, pp 557–582
Bell EC, Willson MC, Wilman AH, Dave S, Silverstone PH (2006)
Males and females differ in brain activation during cognitive
tasks. Neuroimage 30:529–538
Bjorklund F (2003) Differences in the justification of choices in moral
dilemmas: effects of gender, time pressure and dilemma
seriousness. Scand J Psychol 44:459–466
Bolla KI, Eldreth DA, Matochik JA, Cadet JL (2004) Sex-related
differences in a gambling task and its neurological correlates.
Cereb Cortex 14:1226–1232
Brabeck M, Shore E (2003) Gender differences in intellectual and
moral development? The evidence that refutes the claim. In:
Demick J, Andreoletti C (eds) Handbook of adult develop-
ment. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York,
pp 351–368
Buss AH, Perry M (1992) The aggression questionnaire. J Pers Soc
Psychol 63:452–459
Cahill L (2006) Why sex matters for neuroscience. Nat Rev Neurosci
7:477–484
Chen X, Sachdev PS, Wen W, Anstey KJ (2007) Sex differences in
regional grey matter in healthy individuals aged 44–48 years:
a voxel-based morphometric study. Neuroimage 36:691–699
Dupoux E, Jacob P (2007) Universal moral grammar: a critical
appraisal. Trends Cogn Sci 11:373–378
Eisenberg N (2005) The development of empathy-related responding.
Nebr Symp Motiv 51:73–117
Eisenman R (1967) Sex differences in moral judgment. Percept Mot
Skills 24:784
Fischer H, Fransson P, Wright CI, Backman L (2004) Enhanced
occipital and anterior cingulate activation in men but not in
women during exposure to angry and fearful male faces. Cogn
Affect Behav Neurosci 4:326–334
Fumagalli M, Vergari M, Pasqualetti P, Marceglia S, Mameli F,
Ferrucci R, Mrakic-Sposta S, Zago S, Sartori G, Pravettoni G,
Barbieri S, Cappa S, Priori A (2009) Brain switches utilitarian
behavior: does sex make the differences? (submitted)
Gilligan C (1982) In a different voice: psychological theory and
women’s development. Harvard University Press, Cambridge
Greene JD (2009) Dual-process morality and the personal/impersonal
distinction: a reply to McGuire, Langdon, Coltheart, and
Mackenzie. J Exp Soc Psychol. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2009.01.003
Greene J, Haidt J (2002) How (and where) does moral judgment
work? Trends Cogn Sci 6:517–523
Greene JD, Sommerville RB, Nystrom LE, Darley JM, Cohen JD
(2001) An fMRI investigation of emotional engagement in moral
judgment. Science 293:2105–2108
Greene JD, Nystrom LE, Engell AD, Darley JM, Cohen JD (2004)
The neural bases of cognitive conflict and control in moral
judgment. Neuron 44:389–400
Greenfeld L, Snell TL (1999) Women offenders. Bureau of Justice
Statistics, Washington
Gump LS, Baker RC, Roll S (2000) Cultural and gender differences
in moral judgment: a study of Mexican Americans and Anglo-
Americans. Hisp J Behav Sci 22:78–93
Gur RC, Turetsky BI, Matsui M, Yan M, Bilker W, Hughett P, Gur
RE (1999) Sex differences in brain gray and white matter in
healthy young adults: correlations with cognitive performance.
J Neurosci 19:4065–4072
Haan N (1975) Hypothetical and actual moral reasoning in a situation
of civil disobedience. J Pers Soc Psychol 32:255–270
Hareli S, Shomrat N, Hess U (2009) Emotional versus neutral
expressions and perceptions of social dominance and submis-
siveness. Emotion 9:378–384
Harenski CL, Antonenko O, Shane MS, Kiehl KA (2008) Gender
differences in neural mechanisms underlying moral sensitivity.
Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 3:313–321
Hauser M, Cushman F, Young L, Jin RK, Mikhail J (2007) A
dissociation between moral judgments and justifications. Mind
Lang 22:1–21
Holstein CB (1976) Irreversible, stepwise sequence in the develop-
ment of moral judgment: a longitudinal study of males and
females. Child Dev 47:51–61
Home Office (2002) Prison statistics England and Wales 2002. Home
Office, London
Home Office (2003) Prison population brief. England and Wales:
October 2003. Home Office, London
Indick W, Kim J, Oelberger B, Semino L (2000) Gender differences
in moral judgement: is non-consequential reasoning a factor?
Curr Res Soc Psychol 5:285–298
Jaffee S, Hyde JS (2000) Gender differences in moral orientation:
a meta-analysis. Psychol Bull 126:703–726
Keasey CB (1972) The lack of sex differences in the moral judgments
of preadolescents. J Soc Psychol 86:157
Kimura D (1996) Sex, sexual orientation and sex hormones influence
human cognitive function. Curr Opin Neurobiol 6:259–263
Koenigs M, Young L, Adolphs R, Tranel D, Cushman F, Hauser M,
Damasio A (2007) Damage to the prefrontal cortex increases
utilitarian moral judgements. Nature 446:908–911
Kohlberg L (1964) Development of moral character and moral
ideology. In: Hoffman ML, Hoffman LW (eds) Review of child
development research. Russell Sage Foundation, New York
Lee TM, Liu HL, Chan CC, Fang SY, Gao JH (2005) Neural activities
associated with emotion recognition observed in men and
women. Mol Psychiatry 10:450–455
Lifton PD (1985) Individual differences in moral development: the
relation of sex, gender, and personality to morality. J Pers
53:306–334
Lippa R (2005) Gender, nature and nurture. Lawrence Erlbaum
Associates, Mahwah
Luders E, Steinmetz H, Jancke L (2002) Brain size and grey matter
volume in the healthy human brain. Neuroreport 13:2371–2374
Maeda Y, Thoma SJ, Bebeau MJ (2009) Understanding the relation-
ship between moral judgment development and individual
characteristics: the role of educational contexts. J Educ Psychol
101:233–247
McGraw KM, Bloomfield J (1987) Social influence on group moral
decisions: the interactive effects of moral reasoning and sex role
orientation. J Pers Soc Psychol 53:1080–1087
McGuire J, Langdon R, Coltheart M, Mackenzie C (2009) A
reanalysis of the personal/impersonal distinction in moral
psychology research. J Exp Soc Psychol 45:577–580
Oldfield RC (1971) The assessment and analysis of handedness: the
Edinburgh inventory. Neuropsychologia 9:97–113
Overman WH (2004) Sex differences in early childhood, adolescence,
and adulthood on cognitive tasks that rely on orbital prefrontal
cortex. Brain Cogn 55:134–147
Overman WH, Frassrand K, Ansel S, Trawalter S, Bies B, Redmond
A (2004) Performance on the IOWA card task by adolescents
and adults. Neuropsychologia 42:1838–1851
Overman W, Graham L, Redmond A, Eubank R, Boettcher L,
Samplawski O, Walsh K (2006) Contemplation of moral
dilemmas eliminates sex differences on the Iowa gambling task.
Behav Neurosci 120:817–825
Piaget J (1932) The moral judgment of the child. Harcourt, Brace
Jovanovich, Oxford
Cogn Process (2010) 11:219–226 225
123
Raz N, Gunning-Dixon F, Head D, Rodrigue KM, Williamson A,
Acker JD (2004) Aging, sexual dimorphism, and hemispheric
asymmetry of the cerebral cortex: replicability of regional
differences in volume. Neurobiol Aging 25:377–396
Reavis R, Overman WH (2001) Adult sex differences on a decision-
making task previously shown to depend on the orbital prefrontal
cortex. Behav Neurosci 115:196–206
Rest J (1979) Development in judging moral issues. University of
Minnesota Press, Minneapolis
Rest JR, Narvaez D, Thoma SJ, Bebeau MJ (1999) DIT2: devising
and testing a revised instrument of moral judgment. J Educ
Psychol 91:644–659
Sabol W, Couture H, Harrison PM (2007) Prisoners in 2006. Bureau
of Justice Statistics Bulletin. U.S. Department of Justice,
Washington, DC
Schlaepfer TE, Harris GJ, Tien AY, Peng L, Lee S, Pearlson GD
(1995) Structural differences in the cerebral cortex of healthy
female and male subjects: a magnetic resonance imaging study.
Psychiatry Res 61:129–135
Skoe EE (1995) Sex role orientation and its relationship to the
development of identity and moral thought. Scand J Psychol
36:235–245
Sowell ER, Peterson BS, Kan E, Woods RP, Yoshii J, Bansal R, Xu
D, Zhu H, Thompson PM, Toga AW (2007) Sex differences in
cortical thickness mapped in 176 healthy individuals between 7
and 87 years of age. Cereb Cortex 17:1550–1560
Thoma SJ (1993) The relationship between political preference and
moral judgment development in late adolescence. Merrill-Palmer
quarterly. J Dev Psychol 39:359–374
Thomson J (1986) Rights, restitution and risk. Harvard University
Press, Cambridge
Tranel D, Damasio H, Denburg NL, Bechara A (2005) Does gender
play a role in functional asymmetry of ventromedial prefrontal
cortex? Brain 128:2872–2881
Vecchi T, Girelli L (1998) Gender differences in visuo-spatial
processing: the importance of distinguishing between passive
storage and active manipulation. Acta Psychol 99:1–16
Voyer D, Saunders KA (2004) Gender differences on the mental
rotations test: a factor analysis. Acta Psychol 117:79–94
Weiss E, Siedentopf CM, Hofer A, Deisenhammer EA, Hoptman MJ,
Kremser C, Golaszewski S, Felber S, Fleischhacker WW,
Delazer M (2003) Sex differences in brain activation pattern
during a visuospatial cognitive task: a functional magnetic
resonance imaging study in healthy volunteers. Neurosci Lett
344:169–172
226 Cogn Process (2010) 11:219–226
123
... Here, we hypothesize that students at different educational stages will have different moral philosophies. Additionally, based on past studies (Armstrong et al., 2019;Bartels & Pizarro, 2011;Fumagalli et al., 2011), the hypothesis of gender differences in moral philosophy was raised. For example, in Armstrong et al.'s mega-analysis of eight studies, process dissociation was used to assess utilitarian and deontological response tendencies. ...
Article
This article draws on moral theory to explore how 415 adolescents made decisions when confronted with cyberbullying events and further examines whether adolescents with different individual factors (i.e., gender and educational level) have differences in moral philosophy and cyberbullying intention. A scenario-type questionnaire including three cyberbullying events (harassment, denigration and exclusion) was employed to investigate how students apply five moral philosophies in different cyberbullying cases and their engagement intentions in these activities. The results indicated that adolescents adopted a mixed moral philosophy to evaluate cyberbullying events. Females were more inclined to adopt stricter moral equity and relativism to evaluate cyberbullying incidents, while males possessed stronger cyberbullying intention in all scenarios. Junior high school participants tended to believe that all types of cyberbullying are less beneficial to them than university participants. In addition, five moral philosophies can conjointly forecast intentions in three scenarios, accounting for 42 to 57% of the variance. Among them, moral equity is a common predictor. Based on the results, recommendations are provided to reduce the possibility of cyberbullying occurrence by strengthening the content of moral education.
... Previous studies have found that women and men follow different strategies in economic decision-making. Women were thought to be more empathetic and followed deontological principles in decision-making, 26,27 while men were more rational and followed interests principles despite the risk of harming the benefits of others. 28 There are also differences in risk tolerance that women being less risk-seeking and risk-averse than men. ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose: A large number of decision-making need to be carried out in the context of social interactions. Previous studies have demonstrated the impact of fairness perception, moral judgment, and group identity on decision-making. However, there is no clear conclusion as to how the effect of these factors existing simultaneously on decision-making and the extent to which these factors play a role. Methods: We manipulated the moral quality of proposers to explore the issue of whether morality has an impact on fairness perception and manipulated the moral quality of proposer and responder simultaneously forming group identity to explore whether group identity has an impact on the effect of morality on fairness in decision-making. Results: Participants displayed a higher acceptance rates for positive moral proposers than the negative moral proposers regardless of the fairness of the allocation of money (Experiment 1) and group identity (Experiment 2). However, the effect of group identity was working, though it partially supported the In-group Preference (Experiment 1 and Experiment 2 combined analysis). We hold that the group identity was influenced by morality. Conclusion: When making an economic decision, morality has the supreme influence on individuals.
Article
Kohlberg’s moral development theory focuses on the thinking process that occurs when one makes a moral decision. Kohlberg had identified three stages of moral development: Pre-conventional, Conventional, and post-conventional. Moral reasoning, as perceived to be a factor in the decision-making, is a rational act guided by moral principles. It is a subjective evaluation related to practical reasoning, where one justifies the idea based on how a person views various thing. Moreover, decisions rely on reasoning; moral reasoning is related to making a congruent decision when a person creates preference takes more courage in deciding whom to elect during elections. Voting preferences can be affected by certain factors such as peer influence, media influence, family influence, and church/religious community. Political leader preference is described as a judgment based on evaluations and observations through interaction with political content. It may also refer to a political or philosophical opinion on an individual pertained to be a candidate for leadership. Like the Senior High School (SHS) students, some new voters are easily swayed by some politicians. The purpose of this study is to determine the level of moral reasoning and the degree of preference for a political leader of SHS students when grouped according to sex, family monthly income, age, and church ministry involvement. Specifically, it also compares the degree of preference for political leaders when grouped according to variables and correlates moral reasoning and preference for political leaders. Likewise, it explores other factors that influence the political leaders’ preference.
Article
Full-text available
Moral rhetoric presents a strategic dilemma for female politicians, who must navigate stereotypes while appealing to copartisan voters. In this article, we investigate how gender shapes elite moral rhetoric given the influence of partisanship, ideology, gender stereotypes, and moral psychology. Drawing on moral foundations theory, we examine how female and male representatives differ in their emphasis on the five foundations of care, fairness, authority, loyalty, and purity. Using the Moral Foundations Dictionary, we analyze a corpus of 2.23 million tweets by U.S. Congress members between 2013 and 2021. We find that female representatives are more likely to emphasize care and less likely to emphasize authority and loyalty than their male peers. However, when subsetting by party, we find that gender effects are most pronounced among Democrats and largely negligible among Republicans. These findings offer insight into the rhetorical dynamics of political leadership at the intersection of gender and partisan identities.
Article
Full-text available
La ética del cuidado es la propuesta de Carol Gilligan, tras notar el sesgo de género que contenía la tabla del desarrollo moral, propuesta por Lawrence Kohlberg. Gilligan plantea que, mientras el varón tiende a resolver los dilemas morales de manera racionalista, apelando a la idea de justicia, la mujer utiliza también el apego y la empatía. Entonces, propone agregar, en el juicio moral, todo aquello que la mujer capta mejor para corregir el sesgo del sistema de Kohlberg. Por su parte, Nel Noddings convierte la ética del cuidado en una propuesta pedagógica, en diálogo con el movimiento de la educación del carácter. Su modelo contempla cuatro componentes básicos: modelamiento, diálogo, práctica y confirmación. Noddings indica que superar el sesgo de género implica que el juicio moral no se reduzca a la racionalidad instrumental, pero propone evitar caer en el emotivismo. De allí que su propuesta apele a una correcta educación del corazón, buscando un equilibrio entre corazón y cabeza. En este sentido, ambas pensadoras lanzan un desafío positivo a las corrientes actuales de la educación del carácter, justo en un momento en que este campo educativo está expandiendo sus reflexiones fundamentales, mientras busca reflejar todos los aspectos de lapersona humana.
Article
Full-text available
Whether there are gender differences in lying has been largely debated in the past decade. Previous studies found mixed results. To shed light on this topic, here I report a meta-analysis of 8,728 distinct observations, collected in 65 Sender-Receiver game treatments, by 14 research groups. Following previous work and theoretical considerations, I distinguish three types of lies: black lies, which benefit the liar at a cost for another person; altruistic white lies, which benefit another person at a cost for the liar; and Pareto white lies, which benefit both the liar and another person. The results show that: males are significantly more likely than females to tell black lies (N=4,173); males are significantly more likely than females to tell altruistic white (N=2,940); and results are inconclusive in the case of Pareto white lies (N=1,615). Furthermore, gender differences in telling altruistic white lies are significantly stronger than in the other two cases.
Article
Full-text available
Generations of social scientists have explored whether males and females act differently in domains involving competition, risk taking, cooperation, altruism, honesty, as well as many others. Yet, little is known about gender differences in the trade-off between objective equality (i.e., equality of outcomes) and efficiency. It has been suggested that females are more equal than males, but the empirical evidence is relatively weak. This gap is particularly important, because people in power of redistributing resources often face a conflict between equality and efficiency. The recently introduced Trade-Off Game (TOG) – in which a decision-maker has to unilaterally choose between being equal or being efficient – offers a unique opportunity to fill this gap. To this end, I analyse gender differences on a large dataset including N=6,955 TOG decisions. The results show that females prefer objective equality over efficiency to a greater extent than males do. The effect turns out to be particularly strong when the TOG available options are “morally” framed in such a way to suggest that choosing the equal option is the right thing to do.
Article
Full-text available
We investigate the effect of moral suasion on charitable giving. Participants in an online experiment choose between two allocations, one of which includes a donation to a well-known charity organization. Before making this choice, they receive one of several messages potentially involving a moral argument from another participant. We find that the use of consequentialist and deontological arguments has a positive impact on the donation rate. Men respond strongly to consequentialist arguments, while women are less responsive to moral suasion altogether. Messages based on virtue ethics, ethical egoism, and a simple donation imperative are ineffective.
Article
Full-text available
Aim Previous evidence suggests that language influences bilinguals’ moral judgements. One explanation for this phenomenon is that using a second language (L2) attenuates emotional arousal, thus leading to more rational decisions. This study examined whether bilinguals’ moral arguments and emotional vocabulary are influenced by the language – first language (L1) or L2 – in which a moral dilemma is presented. Methodology and data analysis A mixed-methods design was employed. We analysed the emotional vocabulary used by 204 Spanish-English bilinguals when making moral judgements and expressing their emotions in response to a highly emotional moral dilemma, as well as the type of arguments they employed to justify their moral decisions in L1 and L2. Findings The participants were more emotional in their L1, as reflected in the arguments they used to justify their decisions. This finding was supported by a significantly lower number of emotional words in their L2. Moreover, the effect of language on moral judgements was mediated by the participants’ emotions. Originality This study is the first to qualitatively examine the types of arguments underlying bilinguals’ moral decision-making in their L1 and in their L2. Moreover, the analysis of verbal emotional expressions in relation to moral decisions adds to the findings of previous research that was based almost exclusively on forced-choice measures and further supports the hypothesis that the reduction of emotional arousal in an L2 modulates individuals’ moral judgements. Implications The results have implications for L2 teaching and pedagogy. The L2 curriculum should include instruction in emotional vocabulary and should engage learners in discussions that require argumentation and critical thinking about strong emotional content. This may assist bilinguals not only to express their internal affective states more efficiently, but also to experience the intensity of L2 emotionally charged words in a similar way as they do in their L1.
Article
Full-text available
Undergraduates were given three hypothetical moral dilemmas in questionnaire format. Responses were coded as being indicative of either consequential or non-consequential reasoning. Consequential moral decisions are based on the consequences of an act. Non-consequential decisions are based on factors other than the consequences, such as moral principles or rules. Significant gender differences were found. Males were much more likely than females to choose the consequential response to two of the three dilemmas. Also, all of the participants chose the non-consequential response to a much higher degree than was expected. The results suggest that moral judgment is less rational and consistent than many theorists contend, and that different people - especially the opposite sexes - make moral judgments in very different ways.
Book
This engaging text presents the latest scientific findings on gender differences, similarities, and variations--in sexuality, cognitive abilities, occupational preferences, personality, and social behaviors. The impact of nature and nurture on gender is examined from the perspectives of genetics, molecular biology, evolutionary theory, neuroanatomy, sociology, and psychology. The result is a balanced, fair-minded synthesis of diverse points of view. Dr. Lippa’s text sympathetically summarizes each side of the nature-nurture debate, and in a witty imagined conversation between a personified “nature” and “nurture,” he identifies weaknesses in the arguments offered by both sides. His review defines gender, summarizes research on gender differences, examines the nature of masculinity and femininity, describes theories of gender, and presents a “cascade model,” which argues that nature and nurture weave together to form the complex tapestry known as gender. Gender, Nature, and Nurture, Second Edition features: *new research on sex differences in personality, moral thought, coping styles, sexual and antisocial behavior, and psychological adjustment; *the results of a new meta-analysis of sex differences in real-life measures of aggression; *new sections on non-hormonal direct genetic effects on sexual differentiation; hormones and maternal behavior; and on gender, work, and pay; and *expanded accounts of sex differences in children's play and activity levels; social learning theories of gender, and social constructionist views of gender. This lively “primer” is an ideal book for courses on gender studies, the psychology of women, or of men, and gender roles. Its wealth of updated information will stimulate the professional reader, and its accessible style will captivate the student and general reader.
Article
Empathy is an essential part of normal social functioning, yet there are precious few instruments for measuring individual differences in this domain. In this article we review psychological theories of empathy and its measurement. Previous instruments that purport to measure this have not always focused purely on empathy. We report a new self-report questionnaire, the Empathy Quotient (EQ), for use with adults of normal intelligence. It contains 40 empathy items and 20 filler/control items. On each empathy item a person can score 2, 1, or 0, so the EQ has a maximum score of 80 and a minimum of zero. In Study 1 we employed the EQ with n = 90 adults (65 males, 25 females) with Asperger Syndrome (AS) or high-functioning autism (HFA), who are reported clinically to have difficulties in empathy. The adults with AS/HFA scored significantly lower on the EQ than n = 90 (65 males, 25 females) age-matched controls. Of the adults with AS/HFA, 81% scored equal to or fewer than 30 points out of 80, compared with only 12% of controls. In Study 2 we carried out a study of n = 197 adults from a general population, to test for previously reported sex differences (female superiority) in empathy. This confirmed that women scored significantly higher than men. The EQ reveals both a sex difference in empathy in the general population and an empathy deficit in AS/HFA.
Article
A new questionnaire on aggression was constructed. Replicated factor analyses yielded 4 scales: Physical Aggression, Verbal Aggression, Anger, and Hostility. Correlational analysis revealed that anger is the bridge between both physical and verbal aggression and hostility. The scales showed internal consistency and stability over time. Men scored slightly higher on Verbal Aggression and Hostility and much higher on Physical Aggression. There was no sex difference for Anger. The various scales correlated differently with various personality traits. Scale scores correlated with peer nominations of the various kinds of aggression. These findings suggest the need to assess not only overall aggression but also its individual components.