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 goals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label goals. Show all posts

Sunday, February 28, 2021

How peer influence shapes value computation in moral decision-making

Yu, H., Siegel, J., Clithero, J., & Crockett, M. 
(2021, January 16).


Moral behavior is susceptible to peer influence. How does information from peers influence moral preferences? We used drift-diffusion modeling to show that peer influence changes the value of moral behavior by prioritizing the choice attributes that align with peers’ goals. Study 1 (N = 100; preregistered) showed that participants accurately inferred the goals of prosocial and antisocial peers when observing their moral decisions. In Study 2 (N = 68), participants made moral decisions before and after observing the decisions of a prosocial or antisocial peer. Peer observation caused participants’ own preferences to resemble those of their peers. This peer influence effect on value computation manifested as an increased weight on choice attributes promoting the peers’ goals that occurred independently from peer influence on initial choice bias. Participants’ self-reported awareness of influence tracked more closely with computational measures of prosocial than antisocial influence. Our findings have implications for bolstering and blocking the effects of prosocial and antisocial influence on moral behavior.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Can an Evidence-Based Approach Improve the Patient-Physician Relationship?

A. S. Cifu, A. Lembo, & A. M. Davis
JAMA. 2020;323(1):31-32.

Here is an excerpt:

Through these steps, the research team identified potentially useful clinical approaches that were perceived to contribute to physician “presence,” defined by the authors as a purposeful practice of “awareness, focus, and attention with the intent to understand and connect with patients.”

These practices were rated by patients and clinicians on their likely effects and feasibility in practice. A Delphi process was used to condense 13 preliminary practices into 5 final recommendations, which were (1) prepare with intention, (2) listen intently and completely, (3) agree on what matters most, (4) connect with the patient’s story, and (5) explore emotional cues. Each of these practices is complex, and the authors provide detailed explanations, including narrative examples and links to outcomes, that are summarized in the article and included in more detail in the online supplemental material.

If implemented in practice, these 5 practices suggested by Zulman and colleagues are likely to enhance patient-physician relationships, which ideally could help improve physician satisfaction and well-being, reduce physician frustration, improve clinical outcomes, and reduce health care costs.

Importantly, the authors also call for system-level interventions to create an environment for the implementation of these practices.

Although the patient-physician interaction is at the core of most physicians’ activities and has led to an entire genre of literature and television programs, very little is actually known about what makes for an effective relationship.

The info is here.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Dark Pathways to Achievement in Science: Researchers’ Achievement Goals Predict Engagement in Questionable Research Practices

Janke, S., Daumiller, M., & Rudert, S. C. (2019).
Social Psychological and Personality Science, 10(6), 783–791.


Questionable research practices (QRPs) are a strongly debated topic in the scientific community. Hypotheses about the relationship between individual differences and QRPs are plentiful but have rarely been empirically tested. Here, we investigate whether researchers’ personal motivation (expressed by achievement goals) is associated with self-reported engagement in QRPs within a sample of 217 psychology researchers. Appearance approach goals (striving for skill demonstration) positively predicted engagement in QRPs, while learning approach goals (striving for skill development) were a negative predictor. These effects remained stable when also considering Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy in a latent multiple regression model. Additional moderation analyses revealed that the more researchers favored publishing over scientific rigor, the stronger the association between appearance approach goals and engagement in QRPs. The findings deliver first insights into the nature of the relationship between personal motivation and scientific malpractice.

The research can be found here.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Information Processing Biases in the Brain: Implications for Decision-Making and Self-Governance

Sali, A.W., Anderson, B.A. & Courtney, S.M.
Neuroethics (2018) 11: 259.


To make behavioral choices that are in line with our goals and our moral beliefs, we need to gather and consider information about our current situation. Most information present in our environment is not relevant to the choices we need or would want to make and thus could interfere with our ability to behave in ways that reflect our underlying values. Certain sources of information could even lead us to make choices we later regret, and thus it would be beneficial to be able to ignore that information. Our ability to exert successful self-governance depends on our ability to attend to sources of information that we deem important to our decision-making processes. We generally assume that, at any moment, we have the ability to choose what we pay attention to. However, recent research indicates that what we pay attention to is influenced by our prior experiences, including reward history and past successes and failures, even when we are not aware of this history. Even momentary distractions can cause us to miss or discount information that should have a greater influence on our decisions given our values. Such biases in attention thus raise questions about the degree to which the choices that we make may be poorly informed and not truly reflect our ability to otherwise exert self-governance.

Here is part of the Conclusion:

In order to consistently make decisions that reflect our goals and values, we need to gather the information necessary to guide these decisions, and ignore information that is irrelevant. Although the momentary acquisition of irrelevant information will not likely change our goals, biases in attentional selection may still profoundly influence behavioral outcomes, tipping the balance between competing options when faced with a single goal (e.g., save the least competent swimmer) or between simultaneously competing goals (e.g., relieve drug craving and withdrawal symptoms vs. maintain abstinence). An important component of self-governance might, therefore, be the ability to exert control over how we represent our world as we consider different potential courses of action.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Individual Moral Development and Moral Progress

Schinkel, A. & de Ruyter, D.J.
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (2017) 20: 121.


At first glance, one of the most obvious places to look for moral progress is in individuals, in particular in moral development from childhood to adulthood. In fact, that moral progress is possible is a foundational assumption of moral education. Beyond the general agreement that moral progress is not only possible but even a common feature of human development things become blurry, however. For what do we mean by ‘progress’? And what constitutes moral progress? Does the idea of individual moral progress presuppose a predetermined end or goal of moral education and development, or not? In this article we analyze the concept of moral progress to shed light on the psychology of moral development and vice versa; these analyses are found to be mutually supportive. We suggest that: moral progress should be conceived of as development that is evaluated positively on the basis of relatively stable moral criteria that are the fruit and the subject of an ongoing conversation; moral progress does not imply the idea of an end-state; individual moral progress is best conceived of as the development of various components of moral functioning and their robust integration in a person’s identity; both children and adults can progress morally - even though we would probably not speak in terms of progress in the case of children - but adults’ moral progress is both more hard-won and to a greater extent a personal project rather than a collective effort.

Download the paper here.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Why Ethical People Make Unethical Choices

By Ron Carucci
Harvard Business Review
Originally posted December 16, 2016

Most companies have ethics and compliance policies that get reviewed and signed annually by all employees. “Employees are charged with conducting their business affairs in accordance with the highest ethical standards,” reads one such example. “Moral as well as legal obligations will be fulfilled in a manner which will reflect pride on the Company’s name.” Of course, that policy comes directly from Enron.  Clearly it takes more than a compliance policy or Values Statement to sustain a truly ethical workplace.

Corporate ethical failures have become painfully common, and they aren’t cheap.  In the last decade, billions of dollars have been paid in fines by companies charged with ethical breaches. The most recent National Business Ethics Survey indicates progress as leaders make concerted efforts to pay holistic attention to their organization’s systems. But despite progress, 41% of workers reported seeing ethical misconduct in the previous 12 months, and 10% felt organizational pressure to compromise ethical standards. Wells Fargo’s recent debacle cost them $185 million in fines because 5300 employees opened up more than a million fraudulent accounts.  When all is said and done, we’ll likely learn that the choices of those employees resulted from deeply systemic issues.

The article is here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Can generosity go too far?

By Julian Baggini
The New Statesman
Originally published on August 21, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

We have heard so many stories of misguided projects and misspent money over the years that surely the time has come to demand evidence that the charities we ­support are effective. But how do you measure whether a charity is effective? One answer would be to apply two tests: does it achieve its stated goal and does it do so as cost-efficiently as it can? A charity such as Guide Dogs might pass this test. But for effective altruists, in deciding whether to give to Guide Dogs, you ought to ask another question: could you get more altruistic bang for your buck by giving to something completely different instead?

They say you can. Guide Dogs UK says it costs £32,400 to train a guide dog and its owner and then another £12,800 “to support the working partnership”. In contrast, Singer says you can save someone from going blind in the developing world for between $20 and $100. “If you do the maths,” he writes, “you will see that the choice we face is to provide one person with a guide dog or prevent anywhere between 400 and 2,000 cases of blindness.”

The entire article is here.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Updated Definition of Paternalism

By Gerald Dworkin
Stanford Encyclopedia
Updated June 4, 2014

Here are two excerpts:

Paternalism is the interference of a state or an individual with another person, against their will, and defended or motivated by a claim that the person interfered with will be better off or protected from harm. The issue of paternalism arises with respect to restrictions by the law such as anti-drug legislation, the compulsory wearing of seatbelts, and in medical contexts by the withholding of relevant information concerning a patient's condition by physicians. At the theoretical level it raises questions of how persons should be treated when they are less than fully rational.


Weak vs. strong paternalism

A weak paternalist believes that it is legitimate to interfere with the means that agents choose to achieve their ends, if those means are likely to defeat those ends. So if a person really prefers safety to convenience then it is legitimate to force them to wear seatbelts. A strong paternalist believes that people may have mistaken, confused or irrational ends and it is legitimate to interfere to prevent them from achieving those ends. If a person really prefers the wind rustling through their hair to increased safety it is legitimate to make them wear helmets while motorcycling because their ends are irrational or mistaken. Another way of putting this: we may interfere with mistakes about the facts but not mistakes about values. So if a person tries to jump out of a window believing he will float gently to the ground we may restrain him. If he jumps because he believes that it is important to be spontaneous we may not.

The entire definition is here.

Editor's note: Psychologists need to contemplate paternalism in many facets of care.  Not just with the example of suicide, there are host of other ways psychologist's may act paternalistically.  Think informed consent, goals in treatment, intrusive advocacy, respect for patient autonomy, and the collaborative nature of the therapeutic relationship, to name a few.