Which Appraisals Are Foundational to Moral Judgment? Harm, Injustice, and Beyond

Jared Piazza, Paulo Sousa, Joshua Rottman, Stylianos Syropoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
345 Downloads (Pure)


Harm-centric accounts of judgments of moral wrongdoing argue that moral judgments are fundamentally based on appraisals of harm. However, past research has failed to operationally discriminate harm appraisals from appraisals related to injustice. Four studies carefully discriminated harm qua pain/suffering from injustice, alongside appraisals related to impurity, authority, anddisloyalty. Appraisals of injustice outperformed appraisals of harm as independent predictors of the judged wrongness of recalled offenses (Study 1). Studies 2a, 2b, and 3 extended these findings using a diverse range of wrongful acts and two different culturalsamples—the United States and Greece. In addition to the strong relevance of injustice appraisals, these latter studies uncovered substantial contributions of impurity and authority appraisals. The results inform debates on moral pluralism and the foundations of moral cognition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sep 2018


  • moral judgment, harm, injustice, moral foundations theory, moral pluralism


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