Why a True Account of Human Development Requires Exemplar Research

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Abstract

This chapter uses moral psychology to illustrate why exemplar methods are essential for building a valid, complete understanding of key domains of human development. Social psychological, economic, and biological-evolutionary paradigms for studying morality rely on samples drawn from the general population. This research reveals a bleak picture of morality, highlighting its irrational, self-interested, externally controlled aspects. If the subjects in these studies are confused, pliable, or profit-maximizing, these studies conclude that people in general are morally irrational and self-interested. In contrast, studies that investigate morally exceptional individuals reveal a more thoughtful, ideal-driven, self-reflective, creative version of moral functioning. Any account that neglects this high-functioning segment of the range is seriously misleading and cannot provide the basis for aspiration or education. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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