The role of emotions in all stages of the moral decision-making process has previously been addressed. Little attention, however, has been paid to how the decision-making process is altered when dissimilar types of emotions are suppressed. In four studies, we investigated the effects of suppressing guilt and suppressing shame on the moral decision-making process. Overall results indicate that suppression of guilt and shame influences each of the three stages of the moral decision-making process—judgment, intention, and behavior—differently. In particular, suppressing guilt influenced the three stages consecutively in the moral decision-making process. In contrast, suppressing shame directly influenced moral behavior without traveling through the stages of moral decision-making consecutively. Our results imply distinctive characteristics of guilt and shame—not only in their generative processes but also in their consequences, as well as in the stages of moral judgment, intention, and behavior—when they are suppressed. This finding has important implications for moral psychology, as it points toward a previously overlooked mechanism linking emotions to the moral decision-making process.
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