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The dynamics of moral judgment and emotional disposition regarding characters in narrative fiction

Ellinghaus, R.T. (2012) The dynamics of moral judgment and emotional disposition regarding characters in narrative fiction.

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Abstract:According to the disposition theory of drama, a consumer’s emotional affiliation towards a fictive character when being exposed to narrative fiction is always and necessarily caused by a rational moral judgment of that character’s behavior. Based on Raney (2004), the present study questions this basic assumption of the theory by hypothesizing that emotional disposition towards a character can also precede and subsequently influence any moral judgment of the character’s behavior. Therefore, an experiment was conducted in which participants’ emotional disposition towards a fictive film character was manipulated by selective exposure to different scenes, and moral judgment of the character’s behavior in a subsequent scene was measured later on qualitatively as well as quantitatively. Results indicate that participants formed emotional dispositions towards the character without the need for former moral evaluation. Results also indicate that participants used certain cognitive strategies to justify condemnable behavior. Furthermore, compared to male participants, females tended to judge the morally questionable behavior as more condemnable. However, results did not indicate that participants’ moral judgments had been influenced by emotional disposition. Theoretical implications of the findings are discussed, as well as reasons for the present study’s failure to confirm the hypothesized link between emotional disposition and moral judgment.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/62351
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