Differences in the justification of choices in moral dilemmas: Effects of gender, time pressure and dilemma seriousness

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The effects on moral reasoning of gender, time pressure and seriousness of the issue at hand were investigated. In Experiment 1, 72 university students were presented with moral dilemmas and asked what actions the actors involved should take and to justify this. Women were found to be more care-oriented in their reasoning than men, supporting Gilligan’s (1982) moral judgment model. Both time pressure and consideration of non-serious as opposed to serious moral dilemmas led to an increase in a justice orientation as compared to a care orientation in moral judgments. In Experiment 2, a similar task was given to 80 persons of mixed age and profession, and the participants’ moral reasoning was coded in terms of its being either duty-orientated (duty, obligations, rights) or consequence-oriented (effects on others). Men were found to be more duty-oriented than women, and time pressure to lead to a greater incidence of duty orientation.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology


  • Morality, care, justice, time pressure
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-466
JournalScandinavian Journal of Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Publication categoryResearch