When Dark Humor and Moral Judgment Meet in Sacrificial Dilemmas: Preliminary Evidence With Females


  • Emmanuelle Brigaud Orcid
  • Nathalie Blanc Orcid


The influence of dark humor on moral judgment has never been explored, even though this form of humor is well-known to push the boundaries of social norms. In the present study, we examined whether the presence of dark humor leads female participants to approve a utilitarian response (i.e., to kill one to save many) in sacrificial dilemmas. The effects of two types of humorous contexts were compared (i.e., dark vs. nondark) on dilemmas, which differed according to whom benefits from the crime (i.e., oneself and others vs. others only). In addition to collecting moral responses, individuals’ emotional states were assessed at three critical steps: Before and after reading the jokes and also after performing the moral judgment task. Our results revealed that dark and nondark humor similarly elicited a positive emotional state. However, dark humor increased the permissiveness of the moral violation when this violation created benefits for oneself. In self and other beneficial dilemmas, female participants in the dark humorous condition judged the utilitarian response more appropriate than those in the nondark condition. This study represents a first attempt in deepening our understanding of the context-dependent nature of moral judgment usually assessed in sacrificial dilemmas.