The Effect of Vivid Visualization In Moral Judgment
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The present study tests whether vividly visualizing a moral scenario would be associated with more deontological moral judgments rather than utilitarian moral judgments. Deontological judgments are moral judgments based on the idea that some things are morally right and wrong, regardless of the consequences or outcomes. Utilitarian moral judgments are based on the idea that what is moral is whatever serves the greater good. The relationship between vividly visualizing and moral judgment can be understood through examining the different emotions involved and the Construal Level Theorem, which have both been correlated to deontological and utilitarian judgments. In the study, participants read two personal moral scenarios (Footbridge and Mineshaft) and two impersonal moral scenarios (Trolley and Fumes) and answered moral judgment questions along with visualization questions. When looking at impersonal and personal moral scenarios overall, participants were not more likely to visualize the personal scenarios more than the impersonal scenarios. However, visualizing the victim was the only aspect of visualization that was significantly correlated with moral judgment. Lastly, participants were more likely to make deontological moral judgments when they visualized the victim being sacrificed, whereas utilitarian moral judgments were more likely to be made when participants visualized the agent involved in the scenarios.