Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Adam Pazda

Second Advisor

Keri Weed

Third Advisor

Meredith Elzy


Within the psychological literature of morality, little research has been done on the concept of moral superiority. The aim of this study was to determine whether a self-perception of moral superiority led to increased severity of judgment toward social issues and harsher moral action against perpetrators. Participants in the experimental condition were given a moral identity prime prior to all tasks. The results showed that the moral prime was not effective in increasing a sense of moral superiority in comparison to the control condition. Severity of judgment also did not differ between groups. There was no difference between groups on the harshness of punishment for perpetrators of littering or prostitution, but opposite to the hypothesis, the experimental group sentenced a recreational drug user to significantly less jail time than the control group did. Exploratory analyses and a discussion of morality research and future directions follows.