Presentation on theme: "Coco Gutilla, Sylvia Joo, Joseph Svec, Natalie Zepeda Petrinovich, L., Jorgensen, M., & O’Neill, P. (1993). An Empirical Study of Moral Intuitions: Towards."— Presentation transcript:
Coco Gutilla, Sylvia Joo, Joseph Svec, Natalie Zepeda Petrinovich, L., Jorgensen, M., & O’Neill, P. (1993). An Empirical Study of Moral Intuitions: Towards an Evolutionary Ethics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64(3), 467-478.
There has recently been renewed interest in the study of morality by the field of psychology. Piaget and Kohlberg started/stimulated the discussion of moral development. There has been considerable criticism of the adequacy of Piaget and Kohlbergs findings/assumptions. This research is an attempt to further that understanding.
Two different hypothetical situations were presented to subjects, they then chose how to handle the situation based upon predetermined choices. Participants were undergraduate students from the University of California in an introductory psychology class. The situations were presented in a questionnaire form which had three parts The first two parts were the hypothetical situations, and the third was some questions regarding general issues of ethics and morality.
In the trolley situation, you are an innocent bystander on an out of control trolley. There are no breaks, only a switch that will change the course of the trolley. You can either choose to change its path or have it stay its course. If you stay the course you kill 5 people on the track, if you change the course you kill one person on the spare track. The options were formatted in one of two ways. First way, “Killing Format”. This means that the wording of the questionnaire was put in terms of killing, i.e. “if you change course you will KILL one innocent person” The second format was put in terms of a “Saving Format”. This means that the questions were posed in the form of saving life. i.e. “If you chose to change the course of the trolley you will have 5 innocent people.” Note that the options are exactly the same, its simply a format difference.
In the Lifeboat situation a ship has sunk, and there are six survivors on a lifeboat. However, the lifeboat can only support five people. Five of the survivors are humans and the sixth is a collie dog. Participants were given three courses of action from which to choose, and asked to rate each option on a 6 point likert scale. (a) Throw the dog over. (b) Draw straws among the humans and throw loser over. (c) Draw straws among all survivors…..even the dog…..and throw the loser over.
Petrinovich et. al. looked at multiple different aspects and variables when conducting this research, however, for this presentation I will only focus on a few of the more salient ones. Speciesism was the first important factor. They found that in nearly all of the questionnaires they got back people chose to save humans over other species. There were several other variations of the studies in which the people were switched out for animals for certain choices, or they were described as being extremely elderly. In the case of the lifeboat the collie was switched out for an endangered species. Even with these changes people still overwhelmingly chose to save their own kind.
Researchers also looked at some of the demographic data they got along with some of the general questions about ethics/morality. This information showed that gender played a role in how people chose. Women tended to be more egalitarian in their approach, almost using a lottery system. Men on the other hand tended to make more concrete decisions.
The last two effects that were noticed were inclusive fitness, and Nazism. Nazism. As I mentioned earlier in some of the questionnaires there were some substitutions as to what people were represented in these dangerous situations. One of these changes was that Nazis were introduced. In these cases people unanimously chose to save other species of animals before the Nazis. Which is expected. Inclusive Fitness. In some of the situations, people were instructed that some of the members in the situation were family or friends. Not very surprisingly, people chose to save those who were closer to their kin group.