Pascale Willemsen, Albert Newen, Karolina Prochownik, & Kaspar Kai
Willemsen, P., Newen, A., Prochownik, K., & Kai, K. (2023). With great(er) power must come great(er) responsibility – An intercultural study of the social role effect on moral responsibility attribution. Philosophical Psychology.
Publication year: 2023

This paper investigates the relevance of social roles and hierarchies for the attribution of blame and causation in five culturally different countries, namely China, Germany, Poland, the United Arabic Emirates, and the United States of America. We demonstrate that in all these countries, hierarchical differences between the social roles occupied by two agents and associated differences in duties to care for others affect how these two agents are morally and causally judged when they make a decision together. Agents higher in a hierarchy are attributed more blame and considered more causally responsible for an action’s consequences. We also demonstrate that the degree of this effect depends on culture-specific differences in how hierarchies are conceived.