Saturday, March 07, 2015

Men Are More Likely Than Women To Use Consequentialist Moral Reasoning

A study of the moral attitudes of bankers unexpectedly discovers that men are almost six times as likely as women to be consequentialists (15.2% vs. 2.6%). Tip of the hat to Scott Alexander for finding the study, and for highlighting this particular result.

Curiously, the study seems to treat consequentialist moral reasoning as evidence of psychopathy, as pointed out by a sharp-eyed commentator on Scott Alexander's blog post, who directs us to the following quotation from the study:
As consequentialist moral reasoning is, to some extent, correlated with emotional coldness, aggressiveness, and even deceit (see section 1), we have some reason to expect that decision makers in the banking industry are unlikely to see a genuine need for changing the incentive structure of their business, because, from their moral perspective, their conduct might be morally well justified.
It would seem that, in their eagerness to castigate the style of moral reasoning used by bankers, the authors of the study have decided to portray consequentialism as the Devil's Own Moral Calculus. It would also seem that the study's accidental discovery of a gender-based asymmetry in styles of moral reasoning is more interesting than its discovery regarding the moral attitudes of bankers.
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