What Is Morality?

For a topic as subjective as morality, people sure have strong beliefs about what's right and wrong. Yet even though morals can vary from person to person and culture to culture, many are universal, as they result from basic human emotions. We may think of moralizing as an intellectual exercise, but more frequently it's an attempt to make sense of our gut instincts.

Recent posts on Ethics and Morality

Plato on Democracy, Tyranny, and the Ideal State

By Neel Burton M.D. on July 26, 2016 in Hide and Seek
What would Plato have to say about today’s democracies?

"Us" and "Them"...Two Solitudes

People tend to be clannish, and often live in "emotionally-gated communities," in which they seldom communicate. These separations can breed prejudice and conflict, as we often see

What Explains Demographic Gaps? Simpson's Paradox

By Lee Jussim Ph.D. on July 25, 2016 in Rabble Rouser
Racial, gender, and other gaps do not always reflect discrimination

How to Help the Homeless

When a homeless person asks you for spare change, what should you do?

So Many Ways to Cheat

Are some types of infidelity more painful than others?

Trump, Stress Reactivity, Trance, and Ethics

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on July 24, 2016 in Moral Landscapes
Donald Trump paints pervasive threat, triggering the brain’s survival systems and attracting submission to his vision of dominance.

Changing the Human Psyche for Living Sustainably

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on July 24, 2016 in Moral Landscapes
Human psychology has moved away from beliefs that promote sustainable living. Thomas Berry identified misunderstandings that have led to the ecological crisis we face.

Inside the Mind of the Munich Mass Killer

This kind of conundrum has led some psychiatrists to suggest mass or spree killers suffer from a rare disorder so far unclassified and unknown in the textbooks.

The Rules of Engagement in Controversial Discourse

By Lee Jussim Ph.D. on July 22, 2016 in Rabble Rouser
How to engage in civll discourse on controversial topics without really having to try all that hard.

8 Hard, Big Questions and My Insufficient Answers

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on July 21, 2016 in How To Do Life
Thinking about these questions can lift us above our quotidian concerns.

Lack of Moral Fiber (LMF)

Are we, as a species, evolving in terms of moral sensibility…or devolving?

Plagiarism and Google

By William Poundstone on July 19, 2016 in Head in the Cloud
Is there an epidemic of celebrity cribbing—or does it just seem that way?

Emotional Support Animals: The Therapist's Dilemma

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on July 19, 2016 in Animals and Us
Should therapists provide letters that will allow their clients to bring dogs on airplanes and have access to no-pets housing?

The Role of 'One-Sided Sex' in Relationships

Peace-inducing sex is one-sided sex intended to maintain industrial peace within one’s relationship. Is it beneficial? Yes and no.

The Disunited States of America and the Bystander Effect

By Sean Cort on July 18, 2016 in The Power of Perspective
Our nation is actually a 'nation-family' and we are suffering from an illness that could prove fatal.

The Paradox of "Tasteful" Gold Digging

By Ruth Lee Johnson J.D. on July 18, 2016 in So Sue Me
Find out why the most unethical forms of gold digging are also the most likely to evade penalty.

Revisiting Harry Harlow’s Legacy: Cruelty Towards Monkeys

Iconic figures in psychology need to be more critically scrutinized when their research violates basic principles of ethics and morality. Harry Harlow is put under the spotlight.

Atrocity in the City of Nice: An Act of Clinical Insanity?

In Europe, ‘lone wolf’ attacks quadrupled between the 1970s and the 2000s.

My Wife Interviews Me

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on July 18, 2016 in How To Do Life
Musings on making a difference, the decline of free speech and of good jobs, and fear of death.

More on the Pregnant Cancer Patient: To Terminate or No

The decision to terminate or not is the sole property of the mother, but with steady leadership of her oncologist. Personal moral codes juxtaposed to survival instincts are at play

Models of the Human-Dog Relationship

Which model of the human-dog relationship is most scientifically accurate and morally appropriate?

The Missing Word Is Panic.

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on July 16, 2016 in A Swim in Denial
When aggression triggers a moral reflex, it can be blinding. We use it routinely to pump up heroic violence.

Musings About Police Violence

By Jesse Marczyk Ph.D. on July 16, 2016 in Pop Psych
Some thoughts on how to improve the quality of discussions surrounding police shootings

Difficult Conversations

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on July 16, 2016 in How To Do Life
Alan Dershowitz talks about race, rape, and other third-rail issues.

D.W. Sue: Microaggressions Are NOT Always Racism

By Lee Jussim Ph.D. on July 15, 2016 in Rabble Rouser
Promoter of the term "microaggression" regrets its weaponization and chilling effect on campus free speech.

Take Note! Taking Notes

It seems obvious that motivated students will take notes without being encouraged. But how shall we encourage students to bring notebooks to class and actually take notes?

Why It Is So Easy to Hate Each Other

One of the oldest and most pernicious of human qualities is the ease with which we put people into categories.
Wonder woman0731/Flickr

How Can Introverts Help Heal the World?

The world needs all of us to pitch in and make it a better place, but how can we do that when we really prefer not to leave our living rooms?

Which Mammals Are Most Suitable as Pets?

A team of researchers in the Netherlands suggests which mammals make suitable pets and which don’t.

Unmanned: An Unnatural History of Human Castration

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on July 14, 2016 in How We Do It
Deliberate castration, long used to punish criminals and prisoners of war, has also yielded harem guards and has been inflicted on young boys to stop their voices from breaking.