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Morality (in Handbook of Social Psychology)

Selin Kesebir

London Business School

Jonathan Haidt

NYU-Stern School of Business

January 10, 2010

HANDBOOK OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, 5th Ed., S. Fiske, D. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey, eds., Forthcoming

This chapter assesses the state of the art in moral psychology from a social-psychological perspective. We begin with the story of the “great narrowing” — the historical process in which morality got reduced from virtue-based conceptions of the good person down to quandaries about what people should do. We argue for a return to a broader conception of the moral domain that better accommodates the diverse and often group-focused moralities found around the world. Our review of the empirical research is organized under three principles: 1) Intuitive primacy (but not dictatorship); 2) Moral thinking is for social doing; and 3) Morality binds and builds. We argue that kin selection and reciprocal altruism are just two of many evolutionary processes that shaped human morality. We show how a broader and more group-focused conception of morality fits with emerging ideas about multi-level selection, and with new discoveries about the rapid pace of genetic evolution and the importance of intergroup competition during the last 10,000 years. We close by applying this broader moral perspective to religion and politics.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 61

Keywords: morality, evolution, politics, ethics, moral judgment, moral psychology, emotions

JEL Classification: D7, Z

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Date posted: March 31, 2010 ; Last revised: August 25, 2010

Suggested Citation

Kesebir, Selin and Haidt, Jonathan, Morality (in Handbook of Social Psychology) (January 10, 2010). HANDBOOK OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, 5th Ed., S. Fiske, D. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey, eds., Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1534423

Contact Information

Selin Kesebir
London Business School ( email )
Regent's Park
United Kingdom
HOME PAGE: http://people.virginia.edu/~sk8dm
Jonathan Haidt (Contact Author)
NYU-Stern School of Business ( email )
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

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