Moral identity, moral personality, and moral emotion have all been suggested to influence moral behavior individually, however, the results have been mixed and contradictory. Furthermore, they have never been tested together to determine their relative contribution in predicting moral decision-making. An anonymous online survey was administered to undergraduate students (N = 432). Moral Reasoning was assessed by a series of six hypothetical moral dilemmas. Participants were asked which of two choices they would prefer, one being a more deontological choice, in other words, follow a principle such as “tell the truth”, and the other being a more utilitarian choice, such as “lie to spare a person’s feelings”. In addition, participants were asked how confident they felt that they made the right choice in each dilemma. Other measures in the survey battery included Moral Identity which has two subscales, one for Moral Importance, or the degree to which they feel being a moral person is important, and one for Moral Expression, or the degree to which they try to behave consistently with their moral values; a survey of Moral Emotion with subscales for Shame and Guilt; and a measure of Moral Personality variables otherwise known as the dark tetrad: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, Sadism, and Psychopathy. Age and moral expression were the only significant predictors of utilitarian choices on hypothetical moral dilemmas. Although guilt was also correlated with utilitarianism, it failed to be a significant factor when all variables were combined into one regression equation. The degree of confidence participants expressed in their decisions on the hypothetical moral dilemmas was correlated with shame and moral importance, however, none of the morality variables was a significant predictor of confidence ratings when entered together into a regression equation. Possible reasons for the lack of significant results are explored and suggestions for future studies are suggested.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Berman, Steven L.


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program

Psychology; Neuroscience Track



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date


Included in

Psychology Commons