Graduate Program

Clinical Psychology

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Steven J. Scher


The purpose of this study was to examine how moral judgments differ towards substance abusers and unfaithful spouses. Furthermore, the study compared judgments regarding the gender of the transgressor, the transgressor's willingness to go to counseling, and the participant's level of religiosity. Participants in the study were provided with a scenario describing a substance abuse transgression or an infidelity transgression followed by a survey of questions inquiring about their judgments towards the transgressor. Results indicated individuals judge a transgressor more harshly in an infidelity transgression compared to a substance abuse transgression. Results also indicated a gender bias between transgressions as participants judged the female transgressor more harshly for committing infidelity and the male transgressor more harshly for the substance abuse. As predicted, participants viewed infidelity more harshly that substance abuse. There was also an interaction of transgression type and gender: Participants judged a female transgressor more harshly than a male for infidelity, but they judged the male more harshly than the female for substance abuse. Willingness to go to counseling did not affect judgments of the transgressors. A scale was created for the current study to measure religiosity. Results showed that religiosity did not affect participant's judgments.