David A. DeSteno
Stephen G. Harkins (1948-), Adam J. Reeves
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Department or Academic Unit
College of Arts and Sciences. Department of Psychology
Psychology, Social psychology, Morality, Emotion
Ethics--Psychological aspects, Judgment (Ethics), Social ethics
Three studies explore the hypothesis that morality is defined by evolved social-cognitive abilities and social emotions tailored to the development of trusting and cooperative relationships with others. Study 1 will show a fundamental bias in moral judgment that functions to elevate one?s conception of one?s own moral reputation relative to others, and show that this bias extends to group-level social identities. Study 2 will address the cause of this bias, showing that the phenomenon does not result from self-serving automatic intuitions, but rather from the effect of self-serving motivated reasoning which operates in direct competition with more basic and automatic selfless intuitions. Study 3 will extend the social model beyond moral judgment to moral action, investigating the implications of group-membership on the experience of prosocial emotions as well as the frequency and degree of altruistic behavior. Taken together these studies suggest a need for a shift away from traditional arguments debating the relative importance of emotion and reason in moral judgment, and towards a consideration of the function of our moral capacities. Subjects were recruited from the Northeastern University introductory psychology participant pool.
Valdesolo, Piercarlo, "Beyond emotion and reason: the social function of morality" (2008). Psychology Dissertations. Paper 4. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d10016302
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