Western Kentucky University

Poster Title

The Effect of Sexual Context on Moral Decision Making in Men and Women

Institution

Western Kentucky University

Abstract

There is little evidence for a gender difference in morality. However, men and women do possess distinct strategies in handling sexual situations. This leads to two competing hypotheses about moral decisions within a sexual context. Either morality within a sexual context is the same for both genders, or morality within a sexual context is altered by that context in ways that are consistent with gender-specific sexual strategies. To test these hypotheses, we presented sexual and non-sexual moral dilemmas to participants, and asked them to resolve each dilemma. Next, they described how they reached their solution to the dilemma by ranking them in terms of importance. Many of the questions fell into three different categories: Personal Interest, Maintaining Norms, and Post-Conventional. Each of these categories is associated with a specific stage of moral development. Our results will reveal how men and women make moral decisions and whether the genders differ in how they approach a moral dilemma concerning sex. The sexual context varied in terms of sexual orientation, whether the sexual activities were legal or illegal, and whether the characters were male or female. This study will give us a greater insight into how men and women make moral decisions within sexual contexts. With that insight we can develop a more complete understanding of the complications sexuality creates in complex social environments.

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The Effect of Sexual Context on Moral Decision Making in Men and Women

There is little evidence for a gender difference in morality. However, men and women do possess distinct strategies in handling sexual situations. This leads to two competing hypotheses about moral decisions within a sexual context. Either morality within a sexual context is the same for both genders, or morality within a sexual context is altered by that context in ways that are consistent with gender-specific sexual strategies. To test these hypotheses, we presented sexual and non-sexual moral dilemmas to participants, and asked them to resolve each dilemma. Next, they described how they reached their solution to the dilemma by ranking them in terms of importance. Many of the questions fell into three different categories: Personal Interest, Maintaining Norms, and Post-Conventional. Each of these categories is associated with a specific stage of moral development. Our results will reveal how men and women make moral decisions and whether the genders differ in how they approach a moral dilemma concerning sex. The sexual context varied in terms of sexual orientation, whether the sexual activities were legal or illegal, and whether the characters were male or female. This study will give us a greater insight into how men and women make moral decisions within sexual contexts. With that insight we can develop a more complete understanding of the complications sexuality creates in complex social environments.