Cold Side-Effect Effect: Affect Does Not Mediate the Influence of Moral Considerations in Intentionality Judgments

Díaz, Rodrigo Jesús; Viciana, Hugo; Gomila, Antoni (2017). Cold Side-Effect Effect: Affect Does Not Mediate the Influence of Moral Considerations in Intentionality Judgments. Frontiers in psychology, 8(295), p. 295. Frontiers Research Foundation 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00295

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Research has consistently shown that people consider harmful side effects of an action more intentional than helpful side effects. This phenomenon is known as the side-effect effect (SEE), which refers to the influence of moral considerations in judgments of intentionality and other non-moral concepts. There is an ongoing debate about how to explain this asymmetric pattern of judgment and the psychological factors involved in it. It has been posited that affective reactions to agents that bring about harmful side-effects could bias intentionality attributions in these cases, explaining the asymmetric pattern of intentionality judgments that we observe in the SEE. We call this the affective bias hypothesis (ABH). Evidence for the ABH is mixed, with some findings suggesting a role for affective processes, while others suggesting that affective processes play no role in the SEE. A possible explanation for these apparently contradictory results points to affective processes involved in the SEE being confined to anger. In a series of empirical studies, we systematically measured and manipulated participants’ anger in order to test this possibility. Our findings suggest that anger play no role in intentionality judgments in SEE cases, while providing support for a non-emotional motivation to blame as a factor underlying the SEE.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Philosophy

UniBE Contributor:

Díaz, Rodrigo Jesús


100 Philosophy
100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology




Frontiers Research Foundation




Rodrigo Jesús Díaz Martín

Date Deposited:

14 Jun 2017 10:41

Last Modified:

17 Mar 2021 03:35

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