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What are binding moral foundations ?

They refer to strong commitments to principles, which unite individuals into collectives hat allow families, societies etc to thrive/grow

--> e.g.: obedience, loyalty, purity etc


Moral foundation theory (MFT)

Suggests that there are 5 psychological moral foundations on which most cultures build their systems of morality


1. loyalty vs betrayal

2. authority vs subversion

3. purity vs degradation

4. care vs harm

5. fairness vs cheating


Limitations to the binding moral foundations ?

It might produce the motivation + justification necessary for people to withhold help from/directly harm out-group members


Pros on binding moral foundations

1. Increases ones commitment to helping other people

2. Accounts for why the worlds largest religions are still in power


Social Cognitive perspective of moral identity

Refers to an assumption that people whose moral identities are more accessible within the working self concept are more likely to behave in a manner consistent with their conceptions


Circle of moral regard

Refers to the psychological boundaries that people draw around all those people they deem worthy of moral consideration


What are the 3 ways to override/ameliorate our intuitive responses ?

1. Conscious verbal reasoning

--> cost-benefit ratio

2. Reframing a situation to see a new angle/ consequence

3. Social interaction

--> talking to other people who raise new arguments



Refers to a set of principles that indicate what is right/wrong or good/bad behavior

--> ties individuals to a certain type of group/community


Indirect reciprocity

Refers to an interaction between individuals in which the virtue pays by improving ones reputation

--> elicits later cooperation from others


=> solves the problem of fee-riders


Moral judgment

Refers to judgment that has moral content

--> used to evaluate situations, courses of action, persons, behavior, etc.


Moral reasoning

Refers to the conscious mental activity by which one evaluates a moral judgment for its consistency with other moral commitments


Social intuitionist model (SIM)


States that moral judgment is predominantly intuitive, driven primarily by automatic emotional responses that are effortless + produced by unconscious processes

--> 3 types of psychological processes are interconnected


a) Intuition

b) Judgment

c) Reasoning


  1.  moral positions/judgements are primarily intuitive, then rationalized
  2.  often influenced and sometimes changed by discussing such positions/judgements with others


 => de-emphasizes the role of reasoning in reaching moral conclusions 





Moral identity

Refers to the degree to which being a moral person is important to an individual's identity

--> schemas of the moral self

e.g.: high levels have more respect for rights + welfare of others


Moral awareness

Refers to a persons determination that a situation contains moral content and can be considered from a moral point of view


--> is important in perceiving ones own behavior as well as the behavior of others


Dual process model of moral judgment


Suggests 2 ubiquitous + qualitatively different modes of moral thinking that depend on different systems in the brain


1. Deontologcial moral judgements

2. Utilitarian consequentialist judgments


Deontological moral judgments

Refer to judgments that are naturally regarded as reflecting concerns for rights + duties (ones's moral principles)

--> driven by intuitive emotional responses


ex.: I don't kill due to my moral principles


Utilitarian consequentialist judgments

Refer to judgments aimed at promoting the greater good (= not necessarily consistent with one's moral principles)


--> supported by controlled cognitive processes/practical

ex.: killing 1 to save 5 people


Action principle/

Omission bias

Harm caused by an action is less morally acceptable than harm caused by an omission


ex.: death from administered poison vs death from allergy of foods that were delivered after

--> example of deontological moral judgements


Contact principle

Suggests that using physical contact to cause harm to a victim is less morally acceptable than causing harm to a victim without using physical contact


How can moralists, meaning people with differing attitudes influence each other ?

By transmitting moral principles that may be used to override moral intuitions

--> aiming at the "head", not "heart" is of importance


Cultural differences in moral reasoning might even be stronger within cultures than across/between cultures.

Where does this stem from ?

1. Differences in punishment habits between cultures

2. Religious diversity


What are the differences in moral reasoning between cultures ?

1. West emphasizes individual rights vs east emphasizes collective moral concerns/duty based communal obligations


2. Westerners see harmful actions as immoral vs easterners see uncivilized actions as immoral


3. Easterners consider contextual info more vs westerners personal info


Do general principles like: loyalty, purity etc necessarily lead to in-group favoritism ?


--> strong moral identity expands the circle of moral regard


What influences one's degree of morality in a given situation ?

1. Lack of sleep

  • difficulty directing + influencing attentional processes by impacting the PFC

2. Stress

  • causes emotional neural processes to activate, thinking more emotionally than rationally

3. Gender

  • men are more likely to make utilitarian judgments

4. Moral reflection

  •  more reflection, more utilitarian


There are 2 kinds of moral regulation.

Which are those ?

1. Prescriptive

  •  performing good deeds

ex.: charitable behavior


2. Proscriptive

  • inhibiting motivation to commit harmful acts

ex.: not cheating


Internalization Primacy Principle


Suggests that internalization is more important than symbolization when one is in a situation where prescriptive moral regulation is required


What is the difference between internalization vs symbolization ?

Symbolization refers to ones public self

--> how one presents oneself to the public, showing off moral values


Internalization refers to the private self

--> how one really is


Internalization-symbolization equality theory

Internalization + symbolization are both important when proscriptive moral regulation is required