King's College London

Research portal

Agency and intentionality-dependent experiences of moral emotions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

A. R. Bland, T. Schei, J. P. Roiser, M. A. Mehta, R. Zahn, A. Seara-Cardoso, E. Viding, B. J. Sahakian, T. W. Robbins, R. Elliott

Original languageEnglish
Article number110125
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

King's Authors


Moral emotions are thought to influence moral behaviour by providing a driving force to do good and to avoid doing bad. In this study we examined moral emotions; specifically, guilt, shame, annoyance and feeling “bad” from two different perspectives in a moral scenario; the agent and the victim whilst manipulating the intentionality of the harm; intentional and unintentional. Two hundred participants completed a moral emotions task, which utilised cartoons to depict everyday moral scenarios. As expected, we found that self-blaming emotions such as shame and guilt were much more frequent when taking on the perspective of the agent whilst annoyance was more frequent from the victim perspective. Feeling bad, however, was not agency-specific. Notably, when the harm was intentional, we observed significantly greater shame ratings from the perspective of the agent compared to when the harm was unintentional. In addition, we also found clear gender differences and further observed correlations between moral emotions and personality variables such as psychoticism and neuroticism.

View graph of relations

© 2018 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454