Third Australian Conference on Personality and Individual Differences,
Ballarat, December 2004
Miles Bore, Don Munro and David Powis.
Individual differences when responding to moral dilemmas, Part 1: orientation, cognitive dissonance and certainty.
Our previous research has identified a Libertarian-Communitarian (Lib-Com) dimension of moral orientation. When presented with a series of moral dilemmas (the Mojac Scale) some respondents strongly agree with items that support individual rights and well-being while others strongly agree with opposing items that support the laws and norms of society. However, a proportion of respondents strongly agree with both item types. This we labelled as a Dual moral orientation. According to Festinger (1957), a context in
which two relevant and equally valued cognitions are in conflict produces cognitive dissonance. Nine hundred participants completed a computer administered version of the Mojac scale which also included dissonance and certainty items. As hypothesised, curvilinear relationships were found. Dual oriented respondents experienced greater dissonance and greater uncertainty when making moral decisions than Libertarian or Communitarian oriented respondents. Festinger's theory explains why some people experience greater psychological discomfort than others when faced with a moral dilemma.
Don Munro, Miles Bore and David Powis.
Individual differences when responding to moral dilemmas, Part 2: the relationship between item response latencies and standard psychometric measures
Abstract: Response times for personality-type scales, although rarely utilised, are usually regarded as measures of uncertainty. In this study, a scale utilising moral dilemmas (see Bore et al, Part 1) was administered by computer to 900 medical school applicants, and the time taken to respond to each item was captured. Various item types were used in the scale, including those intended to measure certainty and cognitive dissonance; also, respondents can be categorised according to whether they give clear support for one of the moral orientations or are conflicted ('Dualist'). The various item responses were compared to their latencies, using various transformations of the time data. A variety of relationships are reported, that partially support the reliability and validity of the scale and its underlying rationale.