Possibilities and Permissibilities: A Comparison of Modal and Moral Belief Judgments
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This experiment investigates the existence of correspondences between modal and moral belief judgments. Since both modal and moral beliefs are based on non-factual reasoning, it seems possible there is a common mechanism of reasoning guiding these judgments. 83 undergraduate college students were administered a survey of 16 modal situations and 16 moral/disgust-yet-harmless situations. Each situation was paired with three questions asking for 1) a judgment of possible/permissible or impossible/impermissible, 2) a justification for their judgment, and 3) a confidence rating. Once answers were scored and coded, positive correlations were found between all judgments and justifications across modal and moral items. All correspondences were significant at the .05 level. These findings suggest that participants were able to override the initial emotional response of disgust, using reasoning to make their final decision and justification.