The psychology behind Morality

The psychology behind Morality

Moral behaviour

There is still a very common belief in the public mind that morality originates from religion. This is usually predicated on the idea that religion conveys the ethical commands of a supernatural universe creator. Even though the completely natural origins about morality have been extensively documented by scholars and acknowledged in the academic community, a surprising number of people lack knowledge about this topic and are unable to articulate the origins about morality in terms that are not supernatural.

Morality establishes what constitutes the “right” and “wrong” ways of acting; for example, it states that one should treat others fairly and not unfairly (Haidt & Kesebir, 2010). This is thought to be interesting in explaining how people behave socially when living in groups (Gert, 1988). Findings from research on animals (de Waal, 1996) or theories of universal justice (Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001) may not always be helpful in addressing moral behavior in contemporary society. Reconciliation between those who support various political ideologies or follow various religious traditions is also necessary for this (Haidt & Graham, 2007; Harvey & Callan, 2014). The fact that “good people can do bad things” adds credence to the idea that moral behavior can be understood by looking past the reasons behind individual deviance or delinquency.

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Social Intuitionist Model

Jonathan Haidt’s Social Intuitionist Model (SIM) is one theory regarding this decision-making process (2001). According to Haidt, three psychological processes—judgment, reasoning, and intuition—are connected by a series of causal relationships. SIM promotes the idea that moral judgments are primarily made intuitively, with post-hoc reasoning coming into play once the initial judgment has been made.

The dual processing model of moral judgment, another theoretical framework created by Joshua D. Greene, contends that morality can be motivated by thought rather than feeling. In contrast to previous research that suggested reasoning and cognition were the most important factors in determining morality, current research emphasizes the importance of emotion and intuition in moral judgment (Paxton and Greene, 2010).

Moral Development

All of the theories discussed here concur that conscience evolves over time; however, as in other developmental domains, one of the most enduring arguments centers on whether morality develops incrementally and additively or in a sequence of discrete, incommensurable stages. The majority of theoretical approaches accept the idea of stage-wise development. According to psychoanalytic theory, the emergence of the superego marks a turning point in the personality development process, resulting in a fundamentally altered child. Thus, the psychosexual stages that are believed to form the foundation are superimposed with a different set of stages (pre- and post-superego), which partially coincide with them.

Learning theory-based accounts of moral development, on the other hand, see morality as essentially similar to any other type of learning and do not employ the stage concept. That is, morality is ultimately acquired through the slow accumulation of instances of social modeling, reward, punishment, and classical anxiety conditioning. According to this perspective, learning should only go in the direction of becoming more and more similar to what society expects of you. Theoretically, moral learning can change at any point in life in response to novel reinforcement contingencies, even though changes in morality may not be expected in adults. Evolutionary psychology is unique in that it affirms that even

Variations in Moral Sensibility

Individual differences, gender differences, and cultural differences, to mention just the most commonly discussed, are only a few of the issues that make up the problem of moral differences. While not all theoretical approaches attempt to explain all of these kinds of differences, there is spirited discussion about each of them.

1) Individual variations:

Individual differences have been described in terms of stage attainment (Piaget and Kohlberg), degree of internalization (Hoffman), degree of conscience (Freud), and propensity to break social norms (Trivers and other evolutionary psychologists). Individual differences in morality do not require a special explanation, according to learning theory approaches because every person has a different learning history, which causes morality to vary amongst people.

According to cognitive-developmental theory, variations in stage attainment account for the majority of individual morality discrepancies. These discrepancies may result from an individual’s age or from the opportunities (or lack thereof) they have had to assume roles.

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2) Disparities in gender:

Only Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, which holds that men’s higher level of castration anxiety causes them to develop a stricter conscience and a greater capacity for guilt, can explain gender differences with any degree of certainty. Nevertheless, empirical research has not been kind to this prediction. Observations of young children using criteria like obedience, confession of transgression, apparent guilt, and atonement for transgression have generally yielded the opposite result: young girls exhibit more signs of internalization of conscience than young boys.

Subsequent studies have demonstrated that, depending on the situation, people employ both perspectives. Furthermore, reviews of the literature have demonstrated that there is no general difference in the placement of males and females on Kohlberg’s stages; if anything, there is a tendency for females to score higher on some moral reasoning tests (see, e.g., Moon, 1986). But the recognition of the care perspective has given psychological conceptions of moral reasoning a fresh perspective, and it has played a significant role in some of the discussions across cultural boundaries.

3) Cultural distinctions:

Culture is, as we all know, a crucial component of moral reasoning. Zhang and colleagues (2013) claim that moral reasoning varies significantly amongst cultures. Collaborative talks about moral reasoning influenced and clarified the actions that followed in groups. This indicates that logical and reasoned discussions helped each group think through different perspectives and ultimately change their own. Cross-cultural psychologists argue whether morality rules differ in kind or degree due to the vast and widespread cultural differences in morality. Kohlberg’s cognitive-developmental theory has been criticized by Shweder and his associates (see, for example, Shweder, Mahapatra, & Miller, 1990) as being exclusive to Western societies with individualistic social structures and liberal values.

5) Universal characteristics:

Social constructionists offer a critique that goes beyond merely criticizing a specific theory. Their main argument is that since every culture is distinct and has its own moral code and meanings, it is actually impossible to compare them. But constructionists are the only ones who feel this way. Every other moral theory contains some universalist components. The only universal moral principle proposed by psychoanalytic theory is the ban on incest. Nonetheless, the internalization process is thought to be universal since it is based on the fundamental tension that exists between an individual’s wishes and the demands of social life. Ethnographers have questioned this assumption, as was previously mentioned.

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6) Futuristic View:

It seems possible to predict some general trends that most likely won’t change, regardless of how or whether consensus is reached on the topics that are currently under intense debate. First, morality in humans will always be seen as a species-specific adaptation that developed in the context of social living and is triggered in social relations, even though psychologists have a tendency to return to studying individual differences. Therefore, it is likely that theories and concepts from evolutionary psychology will continue to dominate research on the psychology of morality, and that morality will be studied with a greater emphasis on social relationships rather than personality and individual development as it was in the past.

However, individual differences in the use or preference of specific moral bases are being actively studied as correlates of a variety of social psychological constructs, including political ideology, authoritarianism, the need for cognition, and social dominance orientation, to name a few. It is probable that this pattern will persist and grow, facilitating the assimilation of moral psychology to social psychology.

In all of psychology, morality-related questions have always been among the most difficult. The moral sense is so pervasive that its absence is thought to be a pathological condition, but attempts to develop a thorough psychological theory of morality have been impeded by its perplexing complexity and variability among individuals, contexts, and cultural backgrounds.


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