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The influence of temporal distance on justice and care morality

Journal article
Authors Jens Agerström
Fredrik Björklund
Carl Martin Allwood
Published in Scandinavian Journal of Psychology
Volume 51
Pages 46-55
Publication year 2010
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 46-55
Language en
Links DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9450.2009.00724...
Keywords Temporal distance, morality, justice, care, gender
Subject categories Social Sciences, Psychology, Cognitive science, Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified


The primary goal of this study was to examine whether changes in the temporal distance of a moral dilemma affect how it is perceived and subsequently resolved. Based on Construal Level Theory (Trope & Liberman, 2003), it was predicted that the relative weight of abstract justice features should increase and the relative weight of concrete care features should decrease with temporal distance. The results showed that females became increasingly justice-oriented with greater temporal distance. However, this was not the case for males who were unaffected by temporal distance. This interaction was conceptually replicated in a follow-up experiment in which abstraction was manipulated directly by a mindset manipulation. The present results suggest that temporal distance is a contextual factor that can alter the extent to which moral judgments and reasoning are based on justice and care, although this effect seems to be moderated by gender.

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