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We are conducting a variety of research projects on morality and the moral emotions. (We can't give much detail here, because we don't want prospective participants to learn our hypotheses)

You can read our published articles on prof. Haidt's home page

Projects on Moral Judgment:

  1. Testing the social intuitionist model (Haidt, 2003). We are doing a variety of experiments studying moral judgment in social situations. Do people engage in moral reasoning, or do they generally follow their gut feelings? Some of these projects examine the state of "moral dumbfounding."
  2. Testing the "five foundations" theory of morality, which states that the evolved foundations of human morality are innate sensitivities to harm, reciprocity (including fairness and justice), ingroup/outgroup, hierarchy/authority, and purity/pollution.
  3. Political psychology: we have collected evidence that liberals base their moral judgments upon only the first two foundations (harm and reciprocity) while conservatives rely upon all five foundations. We are currently examining whether this difference can be found using measures of implicit cognition, as well as explicit. (Listen to Jesse Graham on WNYC Public Radio, talking about this research).
  4. Understanding taboos. Why do many people object to practices that have no obvious victim? Why do many people moralize issues related to food, sex, drug use, and self-change (e.g., Prozac and plastic surgery). We are looking for the roots of these moral intuitions, many of which seem to be related to anthropological ideas of purity and pollution or sacredness.
Projects on Moral Emotions:
  1. Awe. We are eliciting awe by various means and examining a range of outcome variables: cognitive, emotional social, and behavioral.
  2. Elevation. We are examining the behavioral effects and physiological underpinnings of a positive moral emotion that is a response to witnessing acts of moral beauty.
  3. Admiration. We are examining the energizing and inspiring effects of seeing other people accomplish extraordinary things.
  4. Disgust. We are developing ways of measuring disgust sensitivity and examining the role of disgust in moral judgment. We have conducted the first ever studies of the psychophysiology of socio-moral disgust (as opposed to physical disgust).

Projects on Moral Development:

  1. Can the moral emotions listed above be used in a moral development curriculum? Might getting kids to feel the right things be more effective than teaching them to think in the right way?
  2. When do the various "moral modules" emerge? Ongoing projects examine when kids start to get upset that another child got more of something than they did (around 3.5 years), and when "cooties" emerges as an overlay of a primitive purity and pollution system onto elementary school social interactions.