People recognize and condone their own morally motivated reasoning

Corey Cusimano, Tania Lombrozo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


People often engage in biased reasoning, favoring some beliefs over others even when the result is a departure from impartial or evidence-based reasoning. Psychologists have long assumed that people are unaware of these biases and operate under an “illusion of objectivity.” We identify an important domain of life in which people harbor little illusion about their biases – when they are biased for moral reasons. For instance, people endorse and feel justified believing morally desirable propositions even when they think they lack evidence for them (Study 1a/1b). Moreover, when people engage in morally desirable motivated reasoning, they recognize the influence of moral biases on their judgment, but nevertheless evaluate their reasoning as ideal (Studies 2–4). These findings overturn longstanding assumptions about motivated reasoning and identify a boundary condition on Naïve Realism and the Bias Blind Spot. People's tendency to be aware and proud of their biases provides both new opportunities, and new challenges, for resolving ideological conflict and improving reasoning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105379
StatePublished - May 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


  • Belief
  • Bias blind spot
  • Metacognition
  • Moral judgment
  • Motivated reasoning
  • Naïve realism


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