A Conversation Between Molly Crockett, Daniel Kahneman
June 16, 2016
Here is an excerpt:
DANIEL KAHNEMAN: Molly, you started your career as a neuroscientist, and you still are. Yet, much of the work that you do now is about moral judgment. What journey got you there?
MOLLY CROCKETT: I've always been interested in how we make decisions. In particular, why is it that the same person will sometimes make a decision that follows one set of principles or rules, and other times make a wildly different decision? These intra-individual variations in decision making have always fascinated me, specifically in the moral domain, but also in other kinds of decision making, more broadly.
I got interested in brain chemistry because this seemed to be a neural implementation or solution for how a person could be so different in their disposition across time, because we know brain chemistry is sensitive to aspects of the environment. I picked that methodology as a tool with which to study why our decisions can shift so much, even within the same person; morality is one clear demonstration of how this happens.
KAHNEMAN: Are you already doing that research, connecting moral judgment to chemistry?
CROCKETT: Yes. One of the first entry points into the moral psychology literature during my PhD was a study where we gave people different kinds of psychoactive drugs. We gave people an antidepressant drug that affected their serotonin, or an ADHD drug that affected their noradrenaline, and then we looked at how these drugs affected the way people made moral judgments. In that literature, you can compare two different schools of moral thought for how people ought to make moral decisions.
The entire transcript, video, and audio are here.