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Rational and emotional reactions to moral violations

Gutiérrez, Roberto (2006) Rational and emotional reactions to moral violations. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94390) (KAR id:94390)


This thesis examines the relationship between the emotions of anger and disgust and morality, including moral judgement and moral reasoning. Previous research has been dominated by rationalist theories of morality, proposing that the correctness of an action can be established based on its positive or negative consequences. Although there is considerable evidence showing that moral violations elicit emotional reactions, the relationship between specific emotions and moral violations has not been established clearly. This thesis fills this gap by investigating the relationship between the emotions of anger and disgust and moral violations that elicit disgust. Experiment 1 examines the changes in evaluations of several moral violations after the consideration of its harmful consequences. Experiment 2 focuses on the emotions of anger and disgust as responses to transgressions of moral rules under different cognitive demands. Experiment 3 investigates the evaluation of and emotional reactions to moral violations that harm different targets. In Experiment 4 the evaluation of moral violations and the emotions, of anger and disgust were explored further in conditions in which the described harm to others, the disgustingness of the described action and the cognitive resources of the participants were manipulated orthogonally. Experiment 5 was a partial replication of Experiment 4, concentrating on the conditions that do not describe harm to others. Experiment 6 examines the effect of a moral violation on the presumption of three different types of harm. Together, these results provide support for the proposal that specific emotions are elicited by different types of moral violations, and that anger and disgust are involved in the process of moral judgement. Limitations and implications for future research are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94390
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2023 09:14 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2023 09:14 UTC
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