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Date of Award

Summer 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Graduate Psychology


Richard Fuller West

Bryan Saville

Christopher Hulleman


The current study examined the relation between individual cognitive ability (SAT total score), thinking dispositions (Stanovich’s (2008) Master Rationality Motive, Cacioppo et al.’s (1984) Need for Cognition, Stanovich & West’s (1997) Actively Open-minded Thinking scales), and moral judgment. The relation between these individual differences and moral judgment was examined across multiple contexts. First, the expression of myside bias was examined within a medical ethics scenario in which a limited number of organs must be allocated between two groups of people with differential transplant survival rates. Second, the role of individual differences was examined in moral reasoning across differential presentation of moral dilemma scenarios. The findings of the current study suggest that individual difference variables such as cognitive ability and thinking dispositions do not relate to moral judgment in the same manner across both experimental scenarios. Further investigation and replication is needed in order to draw definitive conclusions regarding the relation between individual cognitive ability, thinking dispositions, and moral judgment.

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