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 practically 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

What Happens When the Dogs Strike Back

By Mark Derr on September 03, 2015 in Dog's Best Friend
In "White God," mutts strike back against oppressive humans. Bodie is one of two canine brothers who portray Hagen.

Getting to the Source

Reflecting on all the buzz about the "Reproducibility Project," I thought it might be worthwhile to provide some perspective from one of the 270 cast members in the Collaboration about what the experience was like - and intended to be - on our side of the fence.

What Would YOU Have Done in Milgram’s Experiment?

When Stanley Milgram studied the nature of human obedience, he shocked the world. Most people today say that they personally would never have obeyed an authority figure to the point of danger. But what they say may bear little resemblance to what they would actually do.

The Degenerate Anthropophaginian

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on September 02, 2015 in Shadow Boxing
True crime author places Packer tale in context of cannibalism and crimes in American history.

New Book Re-examines Lives of Captive and Confined Animals

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on September 02, 2015 in Animal Emotions
In his new book called "The End of Captivity?" Dr. Tripp York discusses zoos, pets, conservation, Christian ethics, and much more centering on the lives of captive and otherwise confined animals. It would be a perfect choice for undergraduate and graduate courses in biology and religious studies, and I'm sure high school students would get a lot out of reading it as well.

How to Spot When Someone is Lying to You

But before we are too quick to judge those in the headlines who find themselves accused of lying, the psychological research indicates that ordinary people tell an average of 1.5 lies a day, but this rate can climb dramatically because how likely you are to deceive depends a lot on the situation you find yourself in.

Bad Science Creates False and Dangerous Beliefs

Science is what is used to justify psychiatry today. If it is science at all, it is bad science. Both the pharmaceutical industry and many of today’s psychological theories including those that support CBT, employ the hoax of evidence-based psychiatry.

Earth to Humans: Why Have You Forsaken Me? Discredence

By Kenneth Worthy Ph.D. on August 31, 2015 in The Green Mind
What are the psychological roadblocks that explain why we’re not doing much to solve global climate change—a phenomenon that threatens the core of our society? This is the fifth installment in a seven-part series.

How to Pray for an Atheist

By David Niose on August 30, 2015 in Our Humanity, Naturally
Nonbelievers don't want prayers, but they often get them anyway. What's the etiquette of unsolicited prayers? And is it changing as the nonreligious demographic grows?

Is Being Courageous Really Self-Serving?

Will we believe that courage is explained by the benefits of a good reputation? Or does ethics still offer a better explanation?

Are You a Feeler, Doer, or Thinker?

By Leon Pomeroy Ph.D. on August 29, 2015 in Beyond Good and Evil
What no other words can tell me so clearly

Engendering Psychology and Psychotherapy

What happens in psychotherapy when gender is given proper attention? So-called aberrant disorders are replaced with STDs-socially transmitted disorders.

Mass Shootings and Mass Media

By Helen M Farrell M.D. on August 29, 2015 in Frontpage Forensics
It is easy for violent acts to become sensationalized in the age of social media and live streaming. It's important to recognize the negative impact of tantalizing news stories to our brains and use our technological tools to enhance community support.

The Psychology of Gestures

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on August 29, 2015 in A Sideways View
Think of a rude gesture, and when you last used it. Think of a famous TV star and their peculiar and very personal gestures. What information are these gestures conveying? What can we read into head, hand and foot movements?

Psychiatry and Frankenstein

Effective psychiatric treatments may serve as unwanted reminders that the human mind is a machine that can be broken and remedied with mechanical fixes

Why Do the Right Thing?

Why do the right thing, anyway?

What Most People Get Wrong About Generosity and Selfishness

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on August 28, 2015 in Ambigamy
People treat generosity as all good and selfishness as all bad. It's more complicated than that. Still, pretending it's that simple can be a great way to grab what we want.

We need a folksy free will

By Joachim I Krueger Ph.D. on August 27, 2015 in One Among Many
Andrew Monroe, who is an expert on moral psychology and folk beliefs about free will responds to an earlier post on 'Free Will Depletion.'

Virginia Shooting: When Tragedy Hits Social Media

Posting events on social media is normal. It is how we communicate. Senseless acts of violence, like the Smith Mountain Virginia shooting, are meant to be public. Social media becomes a vehicle for both the defiant statements of someone who feels powerless and the expression of empathy and sorrow for the senseless loss of life.

The Sin of Being Perfect

Voltaire wrote perfect is the enemy of good. Perfect is also the enemy of the authentic.

Does Anticipating Temptation Help You Resist Temptation?

By Art Markman Ph.D. on August 27, 2015 in Ulterior Motives
In Smart Change, I talk about the importance of planning for temptations. The idea is that temptations are hard to deal with in the moment, because they suggest something that would feel good to do right now. Those temptations can capture your motivational system and drive you to do something that is not in your long-term best interests.

The Disposable Person—Being Unvalued in the Modern Age

Do you ever get the funny feeling that something isn't right? Not to make trouble or anything—but maybe you are right. Do you feel like you’re in a state of chronic interview, a cog in the system, a rat the race, and that seemingly significant people in your life—in romance and at work—may not care about you as a human being? Here's why...

Why Smart People Do Dumb Things

By David Maxfield on August 26, 2015 in Crucial Conversations
The quiet, polite expression of doubt can turn the rest of the group from zombies into thinkers.

Student Questions: The Good, the Bad, and the Interesting

Lots of professors love it when students ask questions. At best, questions reflect activity and engagement. As a way to encourage students to ask questions, professors might say something like, “There’s no such thing as stupid questions.” I agree. But I would consider some questions to be “bad.”

What is a Life Well-Lived?

Once in a while, I like to take a step back from my daily concerns and ask myself what it means to live a good life. What would I be thinking about each day? What would I be saying and doing?

Doing Good Makes Life Meaningful

How putting the needs of others may make your life more meaningful

Psychology Suggests a Surprising Reason for Homicide?

Brendan O'Flaherty and Rajiv Sethi point out in their study that homicide is the second most important reason for the racial gap in life expectancy in the USA: eliminating homicide would do more to equalize African-American and white life expectancy, than eradicating any other cause of death except cardiovascular disease.

Quantify Here Now

By Bruce Poulsen Ph.D. on August 24, 2015 in Reality Play
In a culture that places a high value on quantitative self-knowledge, wearable devices obscure as much as they reveal. While no one doubts their potential health benefits, they keep us transfixed on some aspects of our experience while hiding others.

Enhanced Interrogation: Is it Psychology’s Only Scandal?

The largest professional body of psychologists, the American Psychological Association, may be weathering this latest storm, but the exposure of its decade-long supoort of torture—despite vehement member opposition—has some psychologists calling for an examination of all the “epistemological and material” violence that psychology inflicts on masses of people.

Psychology for Flourishing

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on August 23, 2015 in Moral Landscapes
“A shared story is the basis of the ability of any people to live together as an organized society.” Cultural stories or narratives shape attitudes and behaviors, influencing everyday psychological functioning. David Korten says that we have our story wrong, one that heads us toward self-destruction. There is an alternative, life-promoting story...