Changing people's emotions can change their moral judgments, even when the emotions are incidental to the judgment and hence morally irrelevant. It has commonly been assumed that people lack the motivation or ability to correct against such incidental emotional influences. We provide evidence that the ability to make fine-grained distinctions between emotions is an important moderator of these effects. In two experiments, we found that measured (Experiment 1) and manipulated (Experiment 2) emotion differentiation calibrated the relationship between incidental disgust and moral judgments. Whereas unskilled emotion differentiators made stronger moral judgments after incidental disgust priming, skilled emotion differentiators did not. Emotion differentiation may sharpen moral perception, by enabling people to discount incidental emotions while making moral judgments.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science