Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

November 1978


Published in J.H.Harvey, W. J. Ickes, & R. F. Kidd (Eds.), New Directions in Attribution Research, Vol. II. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1978. Copyright 1978 Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Used by permission.


The position developed in this chapter resembles that taken by Aristotle more than that taken by most modern psychology theorists, for our discipline has tended to approach moral behavior and thought as if two quite different topics were at issue. Modern psychological approaches to moral behavior have tended to focus almost entirely on the emotional mediation of avoidance and upon avoidance behavior, whereas moral judgment theorists have tended to isolate themselves from both emotion and behavior, concentrating instead on verbal expressions of moral judgments. Aristotle suggested a more integrated view - that effective moral training should first involve the young child's emotional dispositions, so that the child learned to love and hate correctly; later when maturation allowed reasoning to emerge, there would be a "symphony between habituated preferences and what reasoning shows to be good" (Fortenbaugh, 1975, p. 49). In an attempt to account for that "symphony" between habituated preferences and reasoning in the realm of morality, this chapter's theoretical development deals with the interplay between emotions and cognitions about emotions, using emotion attribution theory concepts.