Can the Knobe Effect Be Explained Away? Methodological Controversies in the Study of the Relationship Between Intentionality and Morality

Florian Cova, Anthony Lantian, Jordane Boudesseul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Contribution to Journal)

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

© 2016 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc. Based on the “Knobe Effect,” Knobe has argued that moral evaluations can influence intentionality judgments. However, two methodological objections have been raised against this claim: first, that participants’ answers do not accurately reflect what they think and, second, that the Knobe Effect can be fully explained by non-moral factors, such as the agent’s desires or beliefs. In this article, we discuss these two methodological objections to the existence of the Knobe Effect and provide new evidence that moral evaluations can shape intentionality judgments. First, Study 1 shows that standard measures of intentionality do not overestimate participants’ intentionality judgments. Second, Studies 2 and 3 suggest that participants’ moral evaluations still mediate the impact of positive versus negative side-effects on judgments about intentional action, even when taking into account a whole range of non-moral factors. Results suggest that moral evaluations play an irreducible role in shaping our judgments about intentional action.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1295-1308
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes

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