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The influence of the legislative and judicial branches on moral judgment and norm perception with the special case of judicial intervention
Regulation & Governance  (IF5.4),  Pub Date : 2021-05-11, DOI: 10.1111/rego.12404
Maor Zeev-Wolf, Avital Mentovich

This paper examines the capacity of the legislative and judicial branches to shift moral judgment in the direction of the law, when they assume complementary, or competing, normative stances. Participants were asked to rate the morality and social acceptability of ethically dubious behaviors that were either permitted, or prohibited, by the legislative or judicial branch. We found that (i) the legislative branch alters moral judgment in the direction of its legislation, such that conduct seems more moral when the law permits it; (ii) the capacity of the legislative branch to alter moral judgments is similar to that of the judicial branch; (iii) the influence of both branches on moral judgment stems from their ability to impact upon prevailing norms; (iv) disagreements between the branches weakens their ability to influence moral judgment and norm perception. Our findings suggest that both branches are powerful norm setters, involved in shaping people's moral values.