Science University Research Symposium (SURS)

Publication Date



Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

SURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. Timothy Schoenfeld

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Cognitive Load Effect on Moral Decision Making

Elise Crause, Merry Bailey, Liz Eisenga, Caroline Hopper

Choices are made each day to determine the outcome of our lives. To better understand the human process of decision making, philosophers and psychologists have examined moral dilemmas. Cognitive load is a type of stress that alters decision-making and the likelihood of choosing a self-motivated behavior over a behavior that benefits another person or group. For this study, moral dilemmas were given in sets of two before and after a cognitive-load-inducing task. The cognitive-load-inducing task required participants to verbally answer subtraction problems until the answer was correct or time had run out, and the level of stress was measured using two physiological predictors of stress, heart rate and skin conductivity. Our study aimed to determine the effect of an increased cognitive load on the level of selfishness that the participants exhibited when making decisions for a series of moral dilemmas. We conducted our research through the measures of moral dilemmas, heart rate, and skin conductance (Bauer et al., 2022).



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.