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In three experimental studies (total N = 1,056), we examined moral judgments toward relationship betrayals, and how these judgments depended on whether characters and their actions were perceived to be pure and loyal compared to the level of harm caused. In Studies 1 and 2 the focus was confessing a betrayal, while in Study 3 the focus was on the act of sexual infidelity. Perceptions of harm/care were inconsistently and less strongly associated with moral judgment toward the behavior or the character, relative to perceptions of purity and loyalty, which emerged as key predictors of moral judgment across all studies. Our findings demonstrate that a diversity of cognitive factors play a key role in moral perception of relationship betrayals.
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