Terminating a child’s life? Religious, moral, cognitive, and emotional factors underlying non-acceptance of child euthanasia

Deak, C., & Saroglou, V. (2017). Psychologica Belgica, 57, 59-67.

Is opposition to child euthanasia motivated only by ideology, or also by other personality characteristics and individual differences? In Belgium, the first country to legalize child euthanasia (in 2014), we investigated religious, moral, emotional, and cognitive factors underlying the (dis)approval of this legalization (N = 213). Disapproval was associated with religiousness, collectivistic morality (loyalty and purity), and prosocial dispositions, in terms of emotional empathy and behavioral generosity, but not values (care and fairness). It was also associated with low flexibility in existential issues and a high endorsement of slippery slope arguments, but not necessarily low openness to experience. A regression analysis showed that in addition to religiousness, low flexibility in existential issues and high empathy and generosity distinctly predicted opposition to child euthanasia. Whereas most of the findings parallel those previously reported for adult euthanasia, the role of prosocial inclinations in predicting moral opposition seems to be specific to child euthanasia.