University of Tasmania
Richards_whole_thesis.pdf (785.68 kB)

Emotion regulation in sacrificial moral choice dilemmas

Download (785.68 kB)
posted on 2023-05-27, 23:45 authored by richards, ZPT
The dual-process perspective of moral psychology posits the utilitarian and deontological thought processes conflict with one another in moral dilemmas. These two processes produce internal psychological conflict, which must be resolved to make moral choices. One process which may aide in reducing this conflict and in making moral choices, is emotion regulation. Emotion regulation is the process of managing emotional experience and expression to reach situational goals. Prior research has linked poorer emotion regulation with increased deontological responding in moral judgement. However, there is no research examining the relationship between emotion regulation and moral choice. The hypothesis of this study was that a weaker capacity to regulate emotions would predict lower rates of utilitarian responding. This effect would be more pronounced in high conflict, emotionally salient moral choice dilemmas. To investigate this hypothesis, 224 participants were recruited across two studies to look at individual differences in emotion regulation and utilitarian responding. Participants took an amended version of the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS) and were categorised based on their DERS score. Participants then responded to a battery of low and high conflict dilemmas where they had to make a choice on whether to act, which would be the utilitarian response, or not, which would be the deontological response. Using Bayesian analyses, the results of this study found no evidence for the hypothesis, meaning emotion regulation had no effect in moral choice.


Publication status

  • Unpublished

Rights statement

Copyright 2021 the author.

Repository Status

  • Open

Usage metrics

    Thesis collection


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager