Children's Moral Evaluations of Ecological Damage: The Effect of Biocentric and Anthropocentric Intentions

Kortenkamp, K., & Moore, C. (2009). Children's moral evaluations of ecological damage: The effect of biocentric and anthropocentric intentions. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39(8), 1785-1806.

Moral evaluations of ecologically damaging events were studied in 5th, 8th, and 11th graders and college students (N = 246). Participants made 4 kinds of judgments about 2 scenarios: decision rightness, damage rightness, blame of the decision maker, and blame of the agents causing the damage. In both scenarios, the decision maker’s intentions varied (biocentric vs. anthropocentric) as did the damage severity. Overall, participants’ judgments were less harsh when the decision maker had biocentric intentions and when the damage was less severe. However, there were age differences in use of intentions to judge decision rightness. The proposition that judgments of blame of the decision maker should be a joint function of decision and damage rightness was also supported.

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