Analogy and moral decision making

Morteza Dehghani, Dedre Gentner, Kenneth D Forbus, H. Ekhtiari, Sonya Sachdeva

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


It is well known that analogy plays an important role in the process of decision making. However, this role has not yet been systematically examined in the domain of moral decision making. This paper investigates the role of cultural narratives in understanding novel moral situations. We examine whether the processes by which core cultural narratives are applied in people’s lives follow the principles of analogical retrieval and mapping. In particular, we examine how analogical accessibility and alignability influence the use of canonical moral narratives. We also show how access to different moral stories results in differences in moral preference across cultures. We report on the results of two experiments performed among Iranian and American participants. Our results indicate that analogical accessibility to cultural narratives that are similar in structure to a given dilemma is the differentiating factor in our participants’ responses across the different variants and be- tween the two cultural groups.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Second International Conference on Analogy
EditorsBoicho Kokinov, Keith Holyoak, Dedre Gentner
PublisherNBU Press
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)978-954-535-580-6 
StatePublished - 2009


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