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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Parenting & precaution : how the parental care motivation impacts moral judgments of social norm violations Hofer, Marlise Kathleen


Raising a child requires considerable expenditures of time and energy. In order to motivate these behaviours, humans have developed a rich psychology that motivates parental caregiving. One function of the parental care motivation is to protect children from harm. Since social norms provide protection against various types of harm, a parental care mindset may lead to exaggerated negative reactions toward people who violate social norms. The current research examines both trait and state levels of parental care motivation in nonparents and measures their relationship to moral judgments of social norm violations. Study one determined that high trait levels of parental care are associated with harsher moral judgments of social norm violations. Study two replicated these trait level findings and extended them by revealing that situational state level activation of the parental mindset also caused harsher moral judgements of social norm violations. Together, this research suggests that activation of a parental mindset is possible in non-parents and has wide reaching psychological implications including the formation of moral judgments.

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