Send to

Choose Destination
Br J Soc Psychol. 2010 Jun;49(Pt 2):415-23. doi: 10.1348/014466609X482668. Epub 2009 Dec 22.

Perceived vulnerability as a common basis of moral emotions.

Author information

Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University/CAPHRI, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


It is theorized that many moral emotions are triggered when a mechanism for (parental) care is activated by perceived vulnerability, and changes in the care object's well-being are subsequently evaluated and causally attributed. Participants reported different moral emotions (tenderness, concern, sympathy, guilt, and moral anger) in relation to different photographs of males and females widely differing in age. Using variation between emotion objects, it was shown that emotional reactions were highly intercorrelated and strongly related to perceived vulnerability and aroused protective tendency; with children and elderly arousing the strongest, and adult males the weakest, emotions. Moreover, these intercorrelations largely disappeared when vulnerability and protective tendency were statistically controlled. Theoretical implications are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center