Teaching and Learning Guide for: Suggestions for a New Integration in the Psychology of Morality

Authors


  • 1

    Freud, S. (1923/1960). The ego and the id (Standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud). W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition.

  • 2

    Freud, S. (1913/1990). Totem and taboo (Standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud). W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition.

  • 3

    Freud, S. (1927/1989). The future of an illusion (Standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud). W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition.

  • 4

    Shweder, R. A., Much, N. C., Mahapatra, M. & Park, L. (1997). The “big three” of morality (autonomy, community, divinity) and the “big three” explanations of suffering. In A. M. Brandt & P. Rozin (eds.), Morality and health (pp. 119–169). New York: Routledge.

Abstract

Author’s Introduction

The human moral sense is a crucial component of our ability to live together in groups with some degree of order and harmony. Accordingly, an adequate psychological understanding of the human mind must include a theory explaining this moral sense: where it comes from, how it is acquired or developed, what stimuli it responds to, what emotions it gives rise to, what actions it motivates, and how it functions in human experience and action. Psychological theories of morality have generally focused only on limited aspects of the problem without providing an overarching conceptual framework. This article consists of a review of relevant literature and a proposal for a broader basis for the psychology of morality.

Author Recommends

Freud, S. (1930/1989). Civilization and its discontents (Standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud). W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition.

One of the most influential 20th century accounts of morality and its function in the psyche and in society. Freud’s view of morality (scattered through this book and some of his other works, such as The ego and the id1, Totem and taboo2, and The future of an illusion3) is familiar in basic outline to the educated public and furnishes a vocabulary (e.g., superego, introjection, Oedipal conflict, repression, unconscious conflict, etc.) for discussing the child’s acquisition of morality.

Kohlberg, L. (1969). Stage and sequence: The cognitive-developmental approach to socialization. In D. A. Goslin, (Ed.), Handbook of socialization: Theory and research. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1969.

Both succinct and thorough, this chapter is the basic reference for Kohlberg’s cognitive developmental theory of morality, which dominated the psychology of morality for decades. In contrast to Freud’s view of superego formation as internalization of moral standards from outside, Kohlberg’s account focuses on the child’s progressive construction of moral rules from experience of social interaction and growth in the ability to take others’ perspectives. The theory is derived from responses to a series of moral dilemmas that are by now familiar to most students of developmental psychology.

Rozin, P., Lowery, L., Imada, S. & Haidt, J. (1999). The CAD triad hypothesis: A mapping between three moral emotions (contempt, anger, disgust) and three moral codes (community, autonomy, divinity). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76 (4), 574–586.

Taking as their starting point Shweder’s suggestion4 that morality does not comprise a single domain (e.g., rights and obligations regarding benefits and harms), but rather includes concerns such as conformity to community norms and “divinity”, Rozin et al. demonstrate that the different moral domains entail different emotions of disapproval, namely contempt, anger and disgust. This insight is a key element in the model proposed in the Sunar article.

Haidt, J. (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail: A social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychological Review, 108, 814–834.

A wake-up call to moral psychologists showing the inadequacy of the “moral reasoning” approach. Using vignettes that induce “moral dumbfounding”, Haidt shows that individuals are frequently unable to cite a rational basis for moral judgments but rather rely on deeply-felt intuitions that are difficult or impossible to articulate.

Fiske, A. P. (1992). The four elementary forms of sociality: Framework for a unified theory of social relations. Psychological Review, 99(4), 689–723.

The foundational reference for relational models theory (more detailed presentations of the theory can be found in other articles and books by Fiske). Fiske’s identification of four basic forms of social relations remains unchallenged in the literature and has found considerable empirical support in the years since its first publication. This set of categories is another crucial element in the model proposed by Sunar.

de Waal, F. B. M. (1996). Good natured: The origins of right and wrong in humans and other animals. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

de Waal’s examination of helping, sharing, and conflict resolution among numerous primate species but particularly chimpanzees, the ones most closely related to humans, lends support to the thesis that there may be an evolutionary basis for moral feeling and behavior in humans as well.

Hauser, M. D. (2006). Moral minds: How nature designed a universal sense of right and wrong. New York, Harper Collins.

A close examination of the trade-offs people are (and are not) willing to make when forced to choose between courses of action (or inaction) that will each result in harm, but the situations differ in number, identity, proximity, and other characteristics of the potential victims. The regularity in patterns of choice supports Hauser’s suggestion that there may be a kind of “grammar” governing moral judgments of harm-doing.

Iacoboni, M. (2008). Mirroring people: The new science of how we connect with others. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Exciting new work in neuroscience that is beginning to illuminate the human capacity for imitation and empathy. Iacoboni explains “mirror neurons” and their implications in a style that is accessible to non-neuroscientists.

Tangney, J. P. & Dearing, R. L. (2003). Shame and guilt. Guilford Press.

Comprehensive, up-to-date and empirical examination of the two major self-blaming emotions. The findings presented suggest that the two emotions lead to quite different outcomes in terms of behavior change, motivation, and feelings of self-worth.

Online materials:

http://www.YourMorals.org

This site is administered by Jonathan Haidt and several of his colleagues. It offers several scales and quizzes which provide feedback on the respondent’s moral orientation, as well as links to a variety of other resources.

http://philosophy.hku.hk/think/value/rel-quiz.php

A quiz regarding the respondent’s stance on moral relativity. You may not agree with the interpretation of the results but it is likely to be thought-provoking.

http://www.mefeedia.com/entry/marc-hauser-on-moral-minds/14713837
(audio: 17:40 minutes) An interview with Marc Hauser on the moral sense and “moral grammar,” with special attention to the trolley problem type of dilemma and the evolutionary and developmental aspects of moral judgment.

http://odeo.com/episodes/24529288-Walter-Sinnott-Armstrong-on-Moral-Psychology
(audio: 14:20 minutes) An interview with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong which includes subtle and wide-ranging comments on the interrelations of the philosophy and psychology of morality, and on the complexity of the definition of morality.

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html
(video: 19 minutes) Jonathan Haidt explains his view of moral foundations and how they can illuminate people’s political choices—and how awareness of this can lead to greater mutual understanding.

Sample Syllabus:

Topics for Lecture & Discussion

Week I: Introduction & Overview: Definitions, Problems & Issues: What is morality, and how can it be studied?

Reading:

Joyce, R. (2007). The nature of morality (Ch. 2), in The evolution of morality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 45–74.

Weeks II–V: Leading Theories of Morality in Twentieth Century Psychology The Psychoanalytic Approach

Reading:

Freud, S. (1930/1989). Civilization and its discontents (Standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud). W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition.

Social Learning Theory

Reading:

Bandura, A. (1991). Social cognitive theory of moral thought and action. In W. M. Kurtines & J. L. Gewirtz (Eds.), Handbook of moral behavior and development (Vol. 1, pp. 45–103). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

The Cognitive-Developmental Approach

Reading:

Kohlberg, L. (1969). Stage and sequence: The cognitive-developmental approach to socialization. In D. A. Goslin, (Ed.), Handbook of socialization: Theory and research. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1969.

The Empathy Approach

Reading:

Hoffman, M. (2000). Empathy and moral development: Implications for caring and justice. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press.

Weeks VI–IX: Moral Domains, Moral Emotions, Relational Models, and Moral Foundations

Moral Domains

Reading:

Shweder, R. A., Much, N. C., Mahapatra, M. & Park, L. (1997). The “big three” of morality (autonomy, community, divinity) and the “big three” explanations of suffering. In A. M. Brandt & P. Rozin (eds.), Morality and health (pp. 119–169). New York: Routledge.

Moral Emotions

Reading:

Tangney, J. P., & Dearing, R. L. (2003). Shame and Guilt. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Rozin, P., Lowery, L., Imada, S. & Haidt, J. (1999). The CAD triad hypothesis: A mapping between three moral emotions (contempt, anger, disgust) and three moral codes (community, autonomy, divinity). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 574–586.

Relational Models

Reading:

Fiske, A. P. (2004). Relational models theory 2.0. In N. Haslam (Ed.), Relational models theory: A contemporary overview. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Moral Foundations

Reading:

Haidt, J., & Joseph, C. (2008). The moral mind: How five sets of innate intuitions guide the development of many culture-specific virtues, and perhaps even modules. In P. Carruthers, S. Laurence, & S. Stich (Eds.), The Innate Mind, Vol. 3: Foundations and the Future, pp. 367–392. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Week X: Evolutionary Bases

Ridley, M. (1998). The origins of virtue: Human instincts and the evolution of cooperation. London: Penguin.

Weeks XI–XII: Putting It All Together

Reading:

Sunar, D. (2009) Suggestions for a new integration in moral psychology. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4/3, 447–474, DOI 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2009.00191.x

Focus Questions

  • 1What are the main similarities and differences among the 20th century approaches? Discuss in terms of origins of morality, processes of development, and emphasis on emotion, cognition, or moral action.
  • 2What are the conditions under which each of the moral emotions (self-blaming or other-blaming) tends to be aroused? What actions, if any, do they lead to?
  • 3What are the implications for each of the 20th century approaches of Shweder’s claim that there are separate domains of morality?
  • 4Each of Fiske’s relational models implies a different criterion for justice and moral behavior. Is it possible to map these models onto Shweder’s moral domains?
  • 5Which types of moral feeling and behavior appear to be explained on the basis of evolutionary selection? Speculate on whether the same selection processes operated on all of these types of feeling and behavior.

Seminar/Project Idea:

Using the integrative scheme proposed in the Sunar article, propose an intervention program to reduce prejudice between two groups that appear to have widely divergent moral values. Specify which groups the intervention will be designed for, and show specifically how they differ in their approach to morality. Identify the sources of the differences in terms of the moral clusters, including moral domains, relational models, and moral foundations; discuss the methods that might work best with each of the groups in increasing appreciation for the moral stance of the other group.

Ancillary