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

Diagnosing Psychopathy

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on October 23, 2016 in Wicked Deeds
Psychopathy is a continuum ranging from those who possess all of the traits and score highly on them to those who have the traits but score lower on them.

Can Novels Influence Our Beliefs About Reality?

By Jenni Ogden Ph.D. on October 22, 2016 in Trouble in Mind
Joyce Carol Oates’s depiction of an amnesiac, loosely based on HM, perpetuates negative stereotypes about women scientists.

The Nobility in Suffering

By Brian A. Kinnaird Ph.D. on October 22, 2016 in The Hero in You
Cops are destined to bear a lifetime of suffering--an inescapable paradox--but nobody tells them it will be okay.

The Rise of Incivility and What To Do About It

By Ray Williams on October 21, 2016 in Wired for Success
Has incivility become the new norm in America? Fundamental ethical values such as respect, fairness, honesty, personal responsibility and tolerance seem to be fading.

Voracious Science: A Journey from Animal User to Advocate

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 21, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Dr. John Gluck's new book called "Voracious Science" details his courageous and deeply personal ethical transformation from animal researcher to animal protector.

Three Cheers for Methodological Terrorists

By Lee Jussim Ph.D. on October 21, 2016 in Rabble Rouser
A political scientist argues that statistical and methodological criticism is central to improving psychological research, and that stigmatizing such critiques is deeply misguided.

The Ethics of Sharing Client Stories

How can I use my clients as examples in my teaching, while honoring my clients’ confidentiality and therapeutic experience? What are the ethical limits to telling clients' stories?

How History Will Remember Donald Trump

By Mark Goulston M.D., F.A.P.A. on October 21, 2016 in Just Listen
Could Trump be just what civil society needs to resurrect itself from profanity, vulgarity, insensitivity and impatience that can often escalate to violence?

The Ponzi Schemers

By Eugene Soltes Ph.D. on October 20, 2016 in Why They Do It
Inside white-collar crime

How the Trump Foundation Scandal Hurts the Nonprofit Sector

By Gleb Tsipursky Ph.D. on October 20, 2016 in Intentional Insights
Emotional intelligence research shows how you can be in danger due to scandals that have nothing to do with you!

Mandeville's Paradox: Springtime for Machiavellians

Convincing someone that virtue is vice and vice is virtue is a familiar manipulative tactic.

"Mine, Mine, Mine!": The Psychology of Property

By Ruth Lee Johnson J.D. on October 18, 2016 in So Sue Me
"Mine! Mine! Mine!" It is one of the first words that toddlers learn. But where does property come from, and what does it really mean? Scholars, philosophers, and toddlers answer.

The Social Contagion of Psycho Clowns

By Kevin Bennett on October 17, 2016 in Modern Minds
Should you be taking "clown craze 2016" seriously? Social panic sets in as clowns run wild. Real or imagined?

Nietzsche vs. the Batek

Could Nietzsche’s 'Superman' survive in a traditional human society?

Sensitive Topics: Not All That Sensitive

By Jesse Marczyk Ph.D. on October 15, 2016 in Pop Psych
Giving people surveys about histories of victimization and sexual behavior do not appear to trigger them anymore than standard, minimal-risk questions.

Staying Grounded in a Negotiation

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on October 15, 2016 in How To Do Life
On being psychologically ready to negotiate fairly

How Can You Tell If You Are a Good Person?

There are many ways to define what it means to be a good person. Here is one way to check.

Why do women feel ashamed after sexual assault?

By Sheila Kohler on October 14, 2016 in Dreaming for Freud
Like so many women, I have experienced sexual assault, and unlike many have written about it, sometimes even naming the responsible party, but so many years later.

Trump's Failed Apology

Why it is so important for Trump (and all of us) to give meaningful apologies

How to Love People When You Hate Their Political Choices

By Nancy Berns Ph.D. on October 14, 2016 in Freedom to Grieve
This presidential election seems to be harder than others. How do we survive this election? Here are seven places to start.

The Hidden Harm Behind Your Dinner

By Christopher Dum Ph.D. on October 14, 2016 in Exiled in America
Paying for cheap and easy food? There's a true cost, and it's human.

Can Putting a Price on a Kidney Save Lives?

The idea of putting a value on a human organ seems bizarre—and even unconscionable. But I suggest those intuitions do us more harm than good.

On Confession

What is behind the American obsession with public confession?

What Is Wrong With Social Psychological Science?

By Lee Jussim Ph.D. on October 13, 2016 in Rabble Rouser
The dysfunctions in psychological science go way beyond replication


By Isadora Alman MFT, CST on October 13, 2016 in Sex & Sociability
Threesomes keep popping up in the media with a given individual's pros and cons. I don't think one can generalize. Each one is unique. Intrigued?

What Role Should Leisure Play in Our Lives? And What Counts?

If we do not reflect on the role of leisure in a life, how are we to regard an unprecedented rise in engagement in leisure activities among young men?

In Praise of Nuance

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on October 13, 2016 in How To Do Life
Toward our being less black-and-white in discussing difficult issues.

Interests Conflicted: A 'Wicked Problem' in Medical Research

A 'continuum of moral jeopardy' surrounds industry-sponsored funding of scientific research, especially in the field of obesity and nutrition. Why is that so?

Trump's Sexism Is Deeply Biblical

By Phil Zuckerman Ph.D. on October 12, 2016 in The Secular Life
The oppression and objectification of women is Biblically-based

Connecting Dots Between The Opioid Epidemic and Philanthropy

By Allen J Frances M.D. on October 12, 2016 in Saving Normal
The Sackler family earned a fortune promoting the opioid epidemic and should devote their philanthropy to helping the millions of Americans who have been harmed by it.