A Brief Assessment Tool for Investigating Facets of Moral Judgment from Realistic Vignettes

Document Type


Publication Date



Moral judgment, Vignette, Moral, Assessment, Sex

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



Humans make moral judgments every day, and research demonstrates that these evaluations are based on a host of related event features (e.g., harm, legality). In order to acquire systematic data on how moral judgments are made, our assessments need to be expanded to include real-life, ecologically valid stimuli that take into account the numerous event features that are known to influence moral judgment. To facilitate this, Knutson et al. (in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 5(4), 378–384, 2010) developed vignettes based on real-life episodic memories rated concurrently on key moral features; however, the method is time intensive (~1.4–3.4 h) and the stimuli and ratings require further validation and characterization. The present study addresses these limitations by: (i) validating three short subsets of these vignettes (39 per subset) that are time-efficient (10–25 min per subset) yet representative of the ratings and factor structure of the full set, (ii) norming ratings of moral features in a larger sample (total N = 661, each subset N = ~220 vs. Knutson et al. N = 30), (iii) examining the generalizability of the original factor structure by replicating it in a larger sample across vignette subsets, sex, and political ideology, and (iv) using latent profile analysis to empirically characterize vignette groupings based on event feature ratings profiles and vignette content. This study therefore provides researchers with a core battery of well-characterized and realistic vignettes, concurrently rated on key moral features that can be administered in a brief, time-efficient manner to advance research on the nature of moral judgment.


Erratum to this article: https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-017-0945-z

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Behavior Research Methods, v. 50, p. 922-936