Cognitive processes in social and moral decision making

Rima-Maria Rahal

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Both prosociality in group context and morality are important aspects of social life and living together with others in society. In both situations, understanding the cognitive processes underlying the decisions is argued to be a crucial step in designing evidence-based interventions addressing not only choice outcomes, but the driving forces of the choices as well. Using fine-grained and unobtrusive measure of cognitive processes in the decision process, eye tracking is applied in the investigation of cognitive processes in this dissertation. Chapter 2 investigated active ignorance to others’ group membership. Chapter 3 presented two eye tracking studies, in which the cognitive processes of prosociality in intergroup contexts were investigated. Chapter 4 reported a study investigating the cognitive processes underlying moral decisions, speaking to the theoretical debate in moral decision making, advocating a choice discriminability perspective over the dual process theory of moral judgment. The work demonstrates the merit of further illuminating the inner workings of the “black box” of decision making, by using process-tracking techniques to gain insights about decision processes that would have been difficult to achieve when only using choices. Moreover, the work presented here makes a methodological contribution by developing a standardizable and incentivized moral dilemma task.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Leiden University
  • Fiedler, Susann, Co-promotor, External person
  • De Dreu, Carsten K. W., Promotor, External person
Thesis sponsors
Award date20 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Eye tracking
  • Cognitive processes
  • Moral dilemmas
  • Social preferences
  • Group processes


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