Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Psychology


Psychology (Masters)

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 38 pages) : color illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Brendan Gaesser

Committee Members

Ronald Friedman


empathy, equality, moral judgments, morality, social judgments, Empathy, Prejudices, Attitude (Psychology), Ethics, Judgment (Ethics), Prejudice, Attitude

Subject Categories



Empathy has long been considered central in living a moral life. However, mounting evidence has shown that empathy is often biased towards (i.e., felt more strongly for) close and similar others, igniting a debate over whether empathy is inherently morally flawed and should be abandoned in efforts to strive towards greater equity. This debate has focused on whether empathy limits the scope of our morality, with little consideration of whether it may be our moral beliefs limiting our empathy. Across two studies conducted on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (N= 604), we investigate moral judgments of biased and equitable feelings of empathy. We observed a moral preference for empathy towards socially close over distant others. However, feeling equal empathy for all is seen as the most morally and socially valuable. These findings provide new theoretical insight into the relationship between empathy and morality with implications for navigating towards a more egalitarian future.

Included in

Psychology Commons