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Title: How power affects moral judgments
Author: Zheng, Mufan
ISNI:       0000 0004 7660 5452
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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People in powerful positions often make decisions that have moral implications. Lammers and Stapel (2009) proposed that high power increases deontological (rule-based vs. utilitarian or outcome-based) moral reasoning. Yet, the links between power and moral reasoning remain poorly understood. Ten studies tested the replicability, generalizability, mechanisms and context specificity of the links between power and moral judgments. Contrary to Lammers and Stapel argument that power leads to deontological reasoning, I argue that the links between power and moral judgments are flexible and situated. They are dependent on processing style and the focal goals that emerge in association with power roles. Study 1 was an exact replication of the prior findings. Study 2 examined moral judgments in an organisational setting. Studies 3 and 4 investigated how power and the presence/absence of harm to life interacted with preferences for deontological versus utilitarian moral judgments. In Studies 5 and 6, I tested whether processing style modifies the moral reasoning of powerful and powerless individuals by manipulating cognitive load and deliberative thinking. Studies 7 to 10 examined how active goals (regulation- and person-centred goals) guide the moral judgments of power holders (vs. powerless individuals), and also assessed the motivation to maintain authority and the role of goal commitment. Consistent with past research power holders, by default, were inclined to make deontological judgments. This was triggered by intuitive reasoning preferences. However, power differences in moral reasoning were dependent on focal goals. Power holders were motivated to maintain authority and were more committed to focal goals, and this led to greater context specificity in the moral judgments of power holders compared to those of powerless individuals.
Supervisor: Guinote, A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available