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How social forces and moral judgment unfold in language, thought and action
Laura Niemi, Ph.D.
Research on perceptions of free speech and hate crimes shows that perceiving harm and the right to express oneself are thoroughly tangled up in prejudices and biases.
Recovering from trauma is a social and political process. Coming to terms with the event and why it happened hinges on whether one's claims of suffering are considered legitimate.
The multitude of ways that we convey causation is both a blessing and a curse. It allows one to maintain a sense of self as a free agent. It also allows for moral ambiguity.
Allocators who stick to the rules are deemed the most fair—more fair than charitable allocators, or those who reciprocate favors.
Is it advantageous for our leaders to potentially maintain an inflated moral self-image through indirect speech?
Our cognitive models of events are like little moral dramas with toy agents and patients acting according to stereotyped scripts about typical causes.
The grounding of linguistic meaning in bodily experience is probably not something politicians think about, but could it have political consequences?
Do we need to distinguish between harm and purity to understand moral psychology? Contamination concepts in political rhetoric and coping suggest that we do.
Moral values constitute a core framework that organizes psychological processes to motivate predictable patterns of condemnation toward victims. Still, language matters!
Laura Niemi, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in Social Psychology and Global Justice at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto.