Department or Program



Moral psychology is largely concerned with finding moral universals through the study of descriptive ethics to understand how people make moral judgments and decisions. In this pursuit, much of moral psychology has focused primarily on the act structure of moral scenarios and little on the potentially important factors of observer identity (the identities participants bring to the study) and target identity (the identities of the characters in moral scenarios). The present studies utilized “threshold problems,” introduced by Levine et al. (2020), bringing them into a real world context that included factors of both target and observer identity. In threshold problems, a harm threshold is crossed when too many people perform a specific action, leading to bad outcomes, but a small number can perform the action with no ill effects. In two studies, White participants completed a measure of racial ingroup identification and provided judgments about the moral acceptability of a plan that could cause harm to either a majority-Black or majority-White city if the threshold was crossed. I hypothesized that, as racial self-investment increased, acceptability judgments would decrease in the White city condition, but that the same decrease would not be seen in the Black city. However, neither study revealed the hypothesized interaction.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Sargent, Michael

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file

Open Access

Available to all.