Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy
Showing posts with label Ideology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ideology. Show all posts

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Morality beyond the WEIRD: How the nomological network of morality varies across cultures

Atari, M., Haidt, J., et al. (2023).
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Advance online publication.


Moral foundations theory has been a generative framework in moral psychology in the last 2 decades. Here, we revisit the theory and develop a new measurement tool, the Moral Foundations Questionnaire–2 (MFQ-2), based on data from 25 populations. We demonstrate empirically that equality and proportionality are distinct moral foundations while retaining the other four existing foundations of care, loyalty, authority, and purity. Three studies were conducted to develop the MFQ-2 and to examine how the nomological network of moral foundations varies across 25 populations. Study 1 (N = 3,360, five populations) specified a refined top-down approach for measurement of moral foundations. Study 2 (N = 3,902, 19 populations) used a variety of methods (e.g., factor analysis, exploratory structural equations model, network psychometrics, alignment measurement equivalence) to provide evidence that the MFQ-2 fares well in terms of reliability and validity across cultural contexts. We also examined population-level, religious, ideological, and gender differences using the new measure. Study 3 (N = 1,410, three populations) provided evidence for convergent validity of the MFQ-2 scores, expanded the nomological network of the six moral foundations, and demonstrated the improved predictive power of the measure compared with the original MFQ. Importantly, our results showed how the nomological network of moral foundations varied across cultural contexts: consistent with a pluralistic view of morality, different foundations were influential in the network of moral foundations depending on cultural context. These studies sharpen the theoretical and methodological resolution of moral foundations theory and provide the field of moral psychology a more accurate instrument for investigating the many ways that moral conflicts and divisions are shaping the modern world.

Here's my summary:

The article examines how the moral foundations theory (MFT) of morality applies to cultures outside of the Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) world. MFT proposes that there are six universal moral foundations: care/harm, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, sanctity/degradation, and liberty/oppression. However, previous research has shown that the relative importance of these foundations can vary across cultures.

The authors of the article conducted three studies to examine the nomological network of morality (i.e., the relationships between different moral foundations) in 25 populations. They found that the nomological network of morality varied significantly across cultures. For example, in some cultures, the foundation of care was more strongly related to the foundation of fairness, while in other cultures, the foundation of loyalty was more strongly related to the foundation of authority.

The authors argue that these findings suggest that MFT needs to be revised to take into account cultural variation. They propose that the nomological network of morality is shaped by a combination of universal moral principles and local cultural norms. This means that there is no single "correct" way to think about morality, and that what is considered moral in one culture may not be considered moral in another.

The article's findings have important implications for our understanding of morality and for cross-cultural research. They suggest that we need to be careful about making assumptions about the moral beliefs of people from other cultures. We also need to be aware of the ways in which culture can influence our own moral judgments.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Political conspiracy theories as tools for mobilization and signaling

Marie, A., & Petersen, M. B. (2022).
Current Opinion in Psychology, 101440


Political conspiracist communities emerge and bind around hard-to-falsify narratives about political opponents or elites convening to secretly exploit the public in contexts of perceived political conflict. While the narratives appear descriptive, we propose that their content as well as the cognitive systems regulating their endorsement and dissemination may have co-evolved, at least in part, to reach coalitional goals: To drive allies’ attention to the social threat to increase their commitment and coordination for collective action, and to signal devotion to gain within-group status. Those evolutionary social functions may be best fulfilled if individuals endorse the conspiratorial narrative sincerely.


•  Political conspiracist groups unite around clear-cut and hard-to-falsify narratives about political opponents or elites secretly organizing to deceive and exploit the public.

•  Such social threat-based narratives and the cognitive systems that regulate them may have co-evolved, at least in part, to serve social rather than epistemic functions: facilitating ingroup recruitment, coordination, and signaling for cooperative benefits.

•  While social in nature, those adaptive functions may be best fulfilled if group leaders and members endorse conspiratorial narratives sincerely.


Political conspiracy theories are cognitively attractive, hard-to-falsify narratives about the secret misdeeds of political opponents and elites. While descriptive in appearance, endorsement and expression of those narratives may be regulated, at least partly, by cognitive systems pursuing social goals: to attract attention of allies towards a social threat to enhance commitment and coordination for joint action (in particular, in conflict), and signal devotion to gain within-group status.

Rather than constituting a special category of cultural beliefs, we see political conspiracy theories as part of a wider family of abstract ideological narratives denouncing how an evil, villains, or oppressive system—more or less real and clearly delineated—exploit a virtuous victim group. This family also comprises anti-capitalistic vs. anti-communist or religious propaganda, white supremacist vs. anti-racist discourses, etc. Future research should explore the content properties that make those threat-based narratives compelling; the balance between their hypothetical social functions of signaling, commitment, and coordination enhancers; and the factors moderating their spread (such as intellectual humility and beliefs that the outgroup does not hate the ingroup).

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Predictors and consequences of intellectual humility

Porter, T., Elnakouri, A., Meyers, E.A. et al.
Nat Rev Psychol (2022). 


In a time of societal acrimony, psychological scientists have turned to a possible antidote — intellectual humility. Interest in intellectual humility comes from diverse research areas, including researchers studying leadership and organizational behaviour, personality science, positive psychology, judgement and decision-making, education, culture, and intergroup and interpersonal relationships. In this Review, we synthesize empirical approaches to the study of intellectual humility. We critically examine diverse approaches to defining and measuring intellectual humility and identify the common element: a meta-cognitive ability to recognize the limitations of one’s beliefs and knowledge. After reviewing the validity of different measurement approaches, we highlight factors that influence intellectual humility, from relationship security to social coordination. Furthermore, we review empirical evidence concerning the benefits and drawbacks of intellectual humility for personal decision-making, interpersonal relationships, scientific enterprise and society writ large. We conclude by outlining initial attempts to boost intellectual humility, foreshadowing possible scalable interventions that can turn intellectual humility into a core interpersonal, institutional and cultural value.

Importance of intellectual humility

The willingness to recognize the limits of one’s knowledge and fallibility can confer societal and individual benefits, if expressed in the right moment and to the proper extent. This insight echoes the philosophical roots of intellectual humility as a virtue. State and trait intellectual humility have been associated with a range of cognitive, social and personality variables (Table 2). At the societal level, intellectual humility can promote societal cohesion by reducing group polarization and encouraging harmonious intergroup relationships. At the individual level, intellectual humility can have important consequences for wellbeing, decision-making and academic learning.

Notably, empirical research has provided little evidence regarding the generalizability of the benefits or drawbacks of intellectual humility beyond the unique contexts of WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic) societies. With this caveat, below is an initial set of findings concerning the implications of possessing high levels of intellectual humility. Unless otherwise specified, the evidence below concerns trait-level intellectual humility. After reviewing these benefits, we consider attempts to improve an individual’s intellectual humility and confer associated benefits.

Social implications

People who score higher in intellectual humility are more likely to display tolerance of opposing political and religious views, exhibit less hostility toward members of those opposing groups, and are more likely to resist derogating outgroup members as intellectually and morally bankrupt. Although intellectually humbler people are capable of intergroup prejudice, they are more willing to question themselves and to consider rival viewpoints104. Indeed, people with greater intellectual humility display less myside bias, expose themselves to opposing perspectives more often and show greater openness to befriending outgroup members on social media platforms. By comparison, people with lower intellectual humility display features of cognitive rigidity and are more likely to hold inflexible opinions and beliefs.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Neoliberalism and the Ideological Construction of Equity Beliefs

Goudarzi, S., Badaan, V., & Knowles, E. D. (2022). 
Perspectives on Psychological Science. 


Researchers across disciplines, including psychology, have sought to understand how people evaluate the fairness of resource distributions. Equity, defined as proportionality of rewards to merit, has dominated the conceptualization of distributive justice in psychology; some scholars have cast it as the primary basis on which distributive decisions are made. The present article acts as a corrective to this disproportionate emphasis on equity. Drawing on findings from different subfields, we argue that people possess a range of beliefs about how valued resources should be allocated—beliefs that vary systematically across developmental stages, relationship types, and societies. By reinvigorating notions of distributive justice put forth by the field’s pioneers, we further argue that prescriptive beliefs concerning resource allocation are ideological formations embedded in socioeconomic and historical contexts. Fairness beliefs at the micro level are thus shaped by those beliefs’ macro-level instantiations. In a novel investigation of this process, we consider neoliberalism, the globally dominant socioeconomic model of the past 40 years. Using data from more than 160 countries, we uncover evidence that neoliberal economic structures shape equity-based distributive beliefs at the individual level. We conclude by advocating an integrative approach to the study of distributive justice that bridges micro- and macro-level analyses.

From the Conclusions section

The extant literature in psychology conceptualizes neoliberalism as a belief system that can vary dispositionally and situationally (Beattie et al., 2019; Bettache & Chiu, 2019). Bay-Cheng and colleagues (2015) developed a Neoliberal Beliefs Inventory that taps into four subfacets of neoliberal thinking: System Inequality, conceptualized as views about the existence and the extent of inequality in society; Competition, which measures the extent to which one views competition as natural and beneficial; Personal Wherewithal, defined as attributing outcomes and success to personal dispositions such as hard work and merit; and Government Interference, which gauges the extent to which state intervention is seen to constrain personal freedom and endanger the meritocratic ideal. In another attempt, Grzanka and colleagues (2020) created the single-facet Anti-Neoliberal Attitudes Scale using items from existing inventories. Moreover, the endorsement of neoliberal policies has been shown to predict other orientations and belief systems that legitimize group and system inequalities (Azevedo et al., 2019). Becker (2021) examined the situational effect of neoliberal beliefs and found that exposure to neoliberal messages that prioritize freedom over justice and equality, individual success over public spirit, and distributions according to ability over need induced antielite sentiment and that this was mediated by feelings of threat, unfairness, and hopelessness.

Although the research described above is informative, from a cultural-psychological perspective, the notion of ideology also includes laws, policies, institutions, and practices embodying prescriptive and descriptive ideas about fair socioeconomic arrangements. Therefore, a sociocultural model of neoliberal ideology entails empirically investigating the dynamics of neoliberal belief systems (at an individual level) with neoliberal laws, institutions, and cultural practices and products, as in the present analysis. To our knowledge, the empirical analysis presented in this article is the first illustration within psychology and related fields of how neoliberal macro structures influence distributive preferences and beliefs.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Morals as Luxury Goods and Political Polarization

B. Enke, M. Polborn, and Alex Wu
NBER Working Paper No. 30001
April 2022
JEL No. D03,D72


This paper develops a theory of political behavior in which moral values are a luxury good: the relative weight that voters place on moral rather than material considerations increases in income.  This idea both generates new testable implications and ties together a broad set of empirical regularities about political polarization in the U.S. The model predicts (i) the emergence of economically left-wing elites; (ii) that more rich than poor people vote against their material interests; (iii) that within-party heterogeneity is larger among Democrats than Republicans; and (iv) widely-discussed realignment patterns: rich moral liberals who swing Democrat, and poor moral conservatives who swing Republican. Assuming that parties set policies by aggregating their supporters’ preferences, the model also predicts increasing social party polarization over time, such that poor moral conservatives swing Republican even though their relative incomes decreased. We relate these predictions to known stylized facts, and test our new predictions empirically.


This paper has shown that the simple idea of income-dependent utility weights – which is bolstered by a large body of evidence on “modernization” or “postmaterialism” – generates a host of new testable predictions and sheds light on various widely-emphasized stylized facts about the nature of political polarization and realignment patterns in the U.S. In particular, our approach offers a new lens through which the increased salience of moral and cultural dimensions of political conflict can be understood.

One aspect of polarization that we only briefly and informally touched upon is affective polarization: the stylized fact that people’s dislike of supporters of the other party has strongly increased over time (Iyengar, Sood and Lelkes, 2012; Iyengar et al., 2019). In our interpretation, this reflects that the distribution of moral values of Republican and Democrat voters have diverged over time as a result of sorting processes that are triggered by our account of morals as luxury goods. However, while much psychological research suggests that people get angry if others don’t share their basic moral convictions (Haidt, 2012), more research is needed to establish a direct link between increased voter sorting based on moral values and affective polarization.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Reputation fuels moralistic punishment that people judge to be questionably merited

Jordan, J., & Kteily, N. (2020, March 21). 


Critics of outrage culture allege that virtue signaling fuels morally questionable punishment. But does reputation actually have the power to motivate punishment that people see as ambiguously deserved? Across four studies (total n = 9,587), among both liberals and conservatives, we find evidence that the answer is yes. In Studies 1-2, we use a vignette paradigm to demonstrate that even in scenarios where subjects judge punishment to be questionably merited, they often expect punishing to confer reputational benefits. Across a range of such scenarios featuring politicized moral transgressions, many subjects expected punishers to be evaluated positively by co-partisans (and especially more ideologically-minded co-partisans). Furthermore, this expectation sometimes held even for individuals who personally questioned the merits of punishment. In Studies 3-4, we use a behavioral paradigm to investigate the motivational force of reputation in ambiguous situations. To this end, we measure decisions to punish alleged sexual harassment (among liberal subjects) and anti-male discrimination (among conservatives). In conditions where punishment was judged to be morally questionable, subjects nonetheless used punishment to boost their reputations, punishing more frequently when their behavior was public than private. In fact, when approximately equating the strength of reputational incentives, reputation was similarly effective at driving punishment in conditions where punishment was seen as ambiguously vs. unambiguously deserved (Study 3). Furthermore, reputation drove punishment even among individuals with personal reservations about its morality (Study 4, featuring liberal subjects). Together, these results highlight the power of reputation and have implications for debates surrounding virtue signaling and outrage culture.

From the Discussion Section

Theoretical and societal implications.  Our results have important implications, both for theories of psychology and society. More specifically, our findings expand our understanding of the psychological power of reputation, as well as the breadth of its influence on social behavior.  Previous research has documented the robust influence of reputation on behavior in the moral domain. Yet the focus has been on the power of reputation to fuel behaviors that are widely seen as morally good—such as direct acts of cooperation, or acts of punishment that are presumed to be seen by subjects as clearly justified.Thus, previous research has primarily made clear that reputation has the power to inspire socially beneficial behavior.  And while our results do under score this observation (most subjects in the unambiguous conditions of Studies 3 a-b saw punishment as morally merited, and reputation increased their propensity to punish), we also find that reputation can drive behavior that is judged to be morally questionable(as evidenced by the robust influence of reputation on punishment in our ambiguous conditions across Studies 3-4).

Monday, June 7, 2021

Science Skepticism Across 24 Countries

Rutjens, B. T., et al., (2021). 
Social Psychological and Personality Science. 


Efforts to understand and remedy the rejection of science are impeded by lack of insight into how it varies in degree and in kind around the world. The current work investigates science skepticism in 24 countries (N = 5,973). Results show that while some countries stand out as generally high or low in skepticism, predictors of science skepticism are relatively similar across countries. One notable effect was consistent across countries though stronger in Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) nations: General faith in science was predicted by spirituality, suggesting that it, more than religiosity, may be the ‘enemy’ of science acceptance. Climate change skepticism was mainly associated with political conservatism especially in North America. Other findings were observed across WEIRD and non-WEIRD nations: Vaccine skepticism was associated with spirituality and scientific literacy, genetic modification skepticism with scientific literacy, and evolution skepticism with religious orthodoxy. Levels of science skepticism are heterogeneous across countries, but predictors of science skepticism are heterogeneous across domains.

From the Discussion

Indeed, confirming previous results obtained in the Netherlands (Rutjens & van der Lee, 2020)—and providing strong support for Hypothesis 6—the current data speak to the crucial role of spirituality in fostering low faith in science, more generally, beyond its domain-specific effects on vaccine skepticism. This indicates that the negative impact of spirituality on faith in science represents a cross-national phenomenon that is more generalizable than might be expected based on the large variety (Muthukrishna et al., 2020) of countries included here. A possible explanation for the robustness of this effect may lie in the inherent irreconcilability of the intuitive epistemology of a spiritual belief system with science (Rutjens & van der Lee, 2020). (If so, then we might look at a potentially much larger problem that extends beyond spirituality and applies more generally to “post-truth” society, in which truth and perceptions of reality may be based on feelings rather than facts; Martel et al., 2020; Rutjens & Brandt, 2018.) However, these results do not mean that traditional religiosity as a predictor of science skepticism (McPhetres & Zuckermann, 2018; Rutjens, Heine, et al., 2018; Rutjens, Sutton, & van der Lee, 2018) has now become irrelevant: Not only did religious orthodoxy significantly contribute to low faith in science, it was also found to be a very consistent cross-national predictor of evolution skepticism (but not of other forms of science skepticism included in the study).

Thursday, July 23, 2020

“Feeling superior is a bipartisan issue: Extremity (not direction) of political views predicts perceived belief superiority”

Harris, E. A., & Van Bavel, J. J. (2020, May 20).


There is currently a debate in political psychology about whether dogmatism and belief superiority are symmetric or asymmetric across the ideological spectrum. One study found that dogmatism was higher amongst conservatives than liberals, but both conservatives and liberals with extreme attitudes reported higher perceived superiority of beliefs (Toner et al., 2013). In the current study, we conducted a pre-registered direct and conceptual replication of this previous research using a large nationally representative sample. Consistent with prior research, we found that conservatives had higher dogmatism scores than liberals while both conservative and liberal extreme attitudes were associated with higher belief superiority compared to more moderate attitudes. As in the prior research we also found that whether conservative or liberal attitudes were associated with higher belief superiority was topic dependent. Different from prior research, we found that ideologically extreme individuals had higher dogmatism. Implications of these results for theoretical debates in political psychology are discussed.


The current work provides further evidence that conservatives have higher dogmatism scores than liberals while both conservative and liberal extreme attitudes are associated with higher belief superiority (and dogmatism). However, ideological differences in belief superiority vary by topic. Therefore, to assess general differences between liberals and conservatives it is necessary to look across many diverse topics and model the data appropriately. If scholars instead choose to study one topic at a time, any ideological differences they find may say more about the topic than about innate differences between liberals and conservatives.

Monday, June 15, 2020

The dual evolutionary foundations of political ideology

S. Claessens, K. Fischer, and others
Originally published 18 June 19


What determines our views on taxation and crime, healthcare and religion, welfare and gender roles? And why do opinions about these seemingly disparate aspects of our social lives coalesce the way they do? Research over the last 50 years has suggested that political attitudes and values around the globe are shaped by two ideological dimensions, often referred to as economic and social conservatism. However, it remains unclear why this ideological structure exists. Here, we highlight the striking concordance between these two dimensions of ideology and two key aspects of human sociality: cooperation and group conformity. Humans cooperate to a greater degree than our great ape relatives, paying personal costs to benefit others. Humans also conform to group-wide social norms and punish norm violators in interdependent, culturally marked groups. Together, these two shifts in sociality are posited to have driven the emergence of large-scale complex human societies. We argue that fitness trade-offs and behavioural plasticity have maintained strategic individual differences in both cooperation and group conformity, naturally giving rise to the two dimensions of political ideology. Supported by evidence from psychology, behavioural genetics, behavioural economics, and primatology, this evolutionary framework promises novel insight into the biological and cultural basis of political ideology.

The research is here.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Ideological differences in the expanse of the moral circle

Adam Waytz, Ravi Iyer, Liane Young,
Jonathan Haidt & Jesse Graham
Nature Communications volume 10, 
Article number: 4389 (2019)


Do clashes between ideologies reflect policy differences or something more fundamental? The present research suggests they reflect core psychological differences such that liberals express compassion toward less structured and more encompassing entities (i.e., universalism), whereas conservatives express compassion toward more well-defined and less encompassing entities (i.e., parochialism). Here we report seven studies illustrating universalist versus parochial differences in compassion. Studies 1a-1c show that liberals, relative to conservatives, express greater moral concern toward friends relative to family, and the world relative to the nation. Studies 2a-2b demonstrate these universalist versus parochial preferences extend toward simple shapes depicted as proxies for loose versus tight social circles. Using stimuli devoid of political relevance demonstrates that the universalist-parochialist distinction does not simply reflect differing policy preferences. Studies 3a-3b indicate these universalist versus parochial tendencies extend to humans versus nonhumans more generally, demonstrating the breadth of these psychological differences.


Seven studies demonstrated that liberals relative to conservatives exhibit universalism relative to parochialism. This difference manifested in conservatives exhibiting greater concern and preference for family relative to friends, the nation relative to the world, tight relative to loose perceptual structures devoid of social content, and humans relative to nonhumans.

Others have identified this universalist–parochial distinction, with Haidt, for example, noting “Liberals…are more universalistic…Conservatives, in contrast, are more parochial—concerned about their groups, rather than all of humanity.” The present findings comprehensively support this distinction empirically, explicitly demonstrating the relationship between ideology and universalism versus parochialism, assessing judgments of multiple social circles, and providing converging evidence across diverse measures.

The research is here.

Monday, August 6, 2018

False Equivalence: Are Liberals and Conservatives in the U.S. Equally “Biased”?

Jonathan Baron and John T. Jost
Invited Revision, Perspectives on Psychological Science.


On the basis of a meta-analysis of 51 studies, Ditto, Liu, Clark, Wojcik, Chen, et al. (2018) conclude that ideological “bias” is equivalent on the left and right of U.S. politics. In this commentary, we contend that this conclusion does not follow from the review and that Ditto and colleagues are too quick to embrace a false equivalence between the liberal left and the conservative right. For one thing, the issues, procedures, and materials used in studies reviewed by Ditto and colleagues were selected for purposes other than the inspection of ideological asymmetries. Consequently, methodological choices made by researchers were systematically biased to avoid producing differences between liberals and conservatives. We also consider the broader implications of a normative analysis of judgment and decision-making and demonstrate that the “bias” examined by Ditto and colleagues is not, in fact, an irrational bias, and that it is incoherent to discuss bias in the absence of standards for assessing accuracy and consistency. We find that Jost’s (2017) conclusions about domain-general asymmetries in motivated social cognition, which suggest that epistemic virtues are more prevalent among liberals than conservatives, are closer to the truth of the matter when it comes to current American politics. Finally, we question the notion that the research literature in psychology is necessarily characterized by “liberal bias,” as several authors have claimed.

Here is the end:

 If academics are disproportionately liberal—in comparison with society at large—it just might
be due to the fact that being liberal in the early 21st century is more compatible with the epistemic standards, values, and practices of academia than is being conservative.

The article is here.

See Your Surgeon Is Probably a Republican, Your Psychiatrist Probably a Democrat as an other example.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Assessing the contextual stability of moral foundations: Evidence from a survey experiment

David Ciuk
Research and Politics
First Published June 20, 2018


Moral foundations theory (MFT) claims that individuals use their intuitions on five “virtues” as guidelines for moral judgment, and recent research makes the case that these intuitions cause people to adopt important political attitudes, including partisanship and ideology. New work in political science, however, demonstrates not only that the causal effect of moral foundations on these political predispositions is weaker than once thought, but it also opens the door to the possibility that causality runs in the opposite direction—from political predispositions to moral foundations. In this manuscript, I build on this new work and test the extent to which partisan and ideological considerations cause individuals’ moral foundations to shift in predictable ways. The results show that while these group-based cues do exert some influence on moral foundations, the effects of outgroup cues are particularly strong. I conclude that small shifts in political context do cause MFT measures to move, and, to close, I discuss the need for continued theoretical development in MFT as well as an increased attention to measurement.

The research is here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

'The deserving’: Moral reasoning and ideological dilemmas in public responses to humanitarian communications

Irene Bruna Seu
British Journal of Social Psychology 55 (4), pp. 739-755.


This paper investigates everyday moral reasoning in relation to donations and prosocial behaviour in a humanitarian context. The discursive analysis focuses on the principles of deservingness which members of the public use to decide who to help and under what conditions.  The paper discusses three repertoires of deservingness: 'Seeing a difference', 'Waiting in queues' and 'Something for nothing ' to illustrate participants' dilemmatic reasoning and to examine how the position of 'being deserving' is negotiated in humanitarian crises.  Discursive analyses of these dilemmatic repertoires of deservingness identify the cultural and ideological resources behind these constructions and show how humanitarianism intersects and clashes with other ideologies and value systems.  The data suggest that a neoliberal ideology, which endorses self-gratification and materialistic and individualistic ethics, and cultural assimilation of helper and receiver play important roles in decisions about humanitarian helping. The paper argues for the need for psychological research to engage more actively with the dilemmas involved in the moral reasoning related to humanitarianism and to contextualize decisions about giving and helping within the socio-cultural and ideological landscape in which the helper operates.

The research is here.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Education or Indoctrination? The Accuracy of Introductory Psychology Textbooks in Covering Controversial Topics and Urban Legends About Psychology

Ferguson, C.J., Brown, J.M. & Torres, A.V.
Current Psychology (2016).


The introductory psychology class represents the first opportunity for the field to present new students with a comprehensive overview of psychological research. Writing introductory psychology textbooks is challenging given that authors need to cover many areas they themselves may not be intimately familiar with. This challenge is compounded by problems within the scholarly community in which controversial topics may be communicated in ideological terms within scholarly discourse. Psychological science has historically seen concerns raised about the mismatch between claims and data made about certain fields of knowledge, apprehensions that continue in the present “replication crisis.” The concern is that, although acting in good faith, introductory psychology textbook authors may unwittingly communicate information to readers that is factually untrue. Twenty-four leading introductory psychology textbooks were surveyed for their coverage of a number of controversial topics (e.g., media violence, narcissism epidemic, multiple intelligences) and scientific urban legends (e.g., Kitty Genovese, Mozart Effect) for their factual accuracy. Results indicated numerous errors of factual reporting across textbooks, particularly related to failing to inform students of the controversial nature of some research fields and repeating some scientific urban legends as if true. Recommendations are made for improving the accuracy of introductory textbooks.

The article is here.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Why We Should Choose Science over Beliefs

By Michael Shermer
Scientific American
Originally published September 24, 2013

Ever since college I have been a libertarian—socially liberal and fiscally conservative. I believe in individual liberty and personal responsibility. I also believe in science as the greatest instrument ever devised for understanding the world. So what happens when these two principles are in conflict? My libertarian beliefs have not always served me well. Like most people who hold strong ideological convictions, I find that, too often, my beliefs trump the scientific facts. This is called motivated reasoning, in which our brain reasons our way to supporting what we want to be true. Knowing about the existence of motivated reasoning, however, can help us overcome it when it is at odds with evidence.

The entire article (and comments below it) is here.