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The Sacred and the Secular Douglas Medin Northwestern University With the following key people Dan Bartels, Rumen Iliev, Sonya Sachdeva, Will Bennis, Scott.

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Presentation on theme: "The Sacred and the Secular Douglas Medin Northwestern University With the following key people Dan Bartels, Rumen Iliev, Sonya Sachdeva, Will Bennis, Scott."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Sacred and the Secular Douglas Medin Northwestern University With the following key people Dan Bartels, Rumen Iliev, Sonya Sachdeva, Will Bennis, Scott Atran, Jeremy Ginges

2 Overview 1.How is morally-motivated decision making similar to or different from secular decision making? 2.What do we know about the special case of so-called sacred or protected values?

3 Semantic Side of Decisions In addition to the concrete outcomes, decisions convey information to others and to oneself concerning values, goals and the like. A 2-component view: 1.Instrumental, involving probabilities and utilities associated with outcomes 2.Symbolic, expressive or meaning component that may be linked to identity

4 Special Case: Sacred or protected values Tetlock: ”Any value that a moral community implicitly or explicitly treats as possessing infinite or transcendental significance that precludes comparisons, tradeoffs or indeed any other mingling with bounded or secular values”

5 Protected Values 1.Resist tradeoffs—especially between the sacred and the secular 2.Quantity Insensitivity---e.g. harming one is no less wrong than harming five 3.Involve deontological rather than consequentialist decision rules (e.g. do no harm; do it because it’s the right thing to do regardless of the consequences).

6 Baron, Ritov and others Protected values and omission bias: Example: disease threatens to kill 1000 children but there is a vaccine that can prevent deaths but sometimes causes deaths. What’s the highest number of deaths you would allow from the vaccine and still go ahead with it?

7 Typical Results 1.People with protected values have lower thresholds (are less willing to make tradeoffs). 2.People with protected values are more likely to give a zero response (not willing to trade off at all)

8 Prevailing View 1.Sacred values get in the way of making the tradeoffs that inevitably must occur. 2.Sacred values may be associated with “posturing” and may be only “pseudo- sacred.”

9 An alternative view 1.Maybe sacred or protected values have some function 2.We should be suspicious of generalizing from results with undergraduates in fairly restricted and artificial paradigms.

10 Further aspects of sacred values Privileged link to emotions Bound to notions of identity and trust Often have a strong inter-personal component

11 Bartels and Medin(2007) Comparison of Baron and Ritov’s methods with those modeled after Connolly and Reb (2003)

12 Baron and Ritov: As a result of a dam on a river, 20 species of fish are threatened with extinction. By opening the dam for a month each year, you can save these species, but 2 species downstream will become extinct because of the changing water level. Would you open the dam? Y N What is the largest number of species made extinct by the opening at which you would open the dam?__________

13 Connolly and Reb: As a result of a dam on a river, 20 species of fish are threatened with extinction. By opening the dam for a month each year, you can save these species, but some species downstream will become extinct because of the changing water level. Would you open the dam if it would kill 2 species of fish downstream as a result? Y N Would you open the dam if it would kill 6 species of fish downstream as a result? Y N Would you open the dam if it would kill 10 species of fish downstream as a result? Y N Would you open the dam if it would kill 14 species of fish downstream as a result? Y N Would you open the dam if it would kill 18 species of fish downstream as a result? Y N

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15 Followup with jihadists (with Scott Atran and Jeremy Ginges) Does God love the martyr Kills one ten Less? More? 0 38 Approve ten hundred Less? More? 1 39

16 Further Cognitive Consequences of Sacred Values Rumen Iliev The area of decision making has more or less neglected cognitive processes and mental representations Consequences for conjunction fallacy and effects of an irrelevant anchor

17 Predictions and Results: Cognitive properties of SVs 1.Greater conjunction fallacy for relevant information 2.Smaller effect of an irrelevant anchor 3.From a Stroop task (say the color in which a word is printed and not the word itself). Larger Stroop effect for value- related words and better incidental memory for value-related words

18 Some followup studies Context effects on judgment Attraction effect and Compromise effect Dimensions = moral values such as a plan that prevents 10 species from extinction and saves 100 children from starving

19 Attraction Effect Two alternative choice set P(2)

20 Attraction Effect Two alternative choice set P(2)

21 Compromise effect Pick 2,3 so people are indifferent 2 becomes a compromise when 1 is added Compromise = more choices of 2

22 Results so far Moral values are associated with clear attraction effects Compromise effects absent or weak No evidence that SV versus no-SV changes results

23 Interim Summary Two keys properties of SVs--tradeoff reluctance and insensitivity to quantity, are undermined by these studies. The sensitivity of SVs to attentional manipulations and context effects is a challenge to understanding processes associated with moral judgment

24 Other Challenges 1.How do sacred values help us understand (intra- and inter-) group formation, cooperation, and conflict? 2.How can we bridge between basic research conducted under artificial, (over) simplified conditions and real practical problems.

25 Example from field research in northeast Wisconsin Participants: Members of various cultural groups in two neighboring counties, including –Native Americans living on the Menominee reservation, –Evangelical Christians living in neighboring Shawano county, –Avid hunters and fishers (in both locations).

26 Scenarios 1.Requiring Native Americans to give up tribal regulation of fishing and hunting practices. 2.Allowing public schools to teach secular (non-religious) evolutionary theory in science class, but not a Christian perspective on creation. 3.Allowing the mother and family to decide whether or not to have an abortion in cases where she would almost certainly lose her life delivering the child. 4.Allowing farmers to use fertilizers that pose a very small risk of groundwater contamination if they dramatically increase the yield of a large field.

27 Participants asked to indicate agreement with 2 statements 1.“This is the kind of decision where it's best to rely on moral rules of right and wrong” 2.“This is the kind of decision where it's best to [weigh the costs & benefits/pros & cons]”

28 7 pt. Likert scale, 7 = completely agree Average across scenarios (All four scenarios had the same cross-over pattern). “This is the type of decision where it’s… p <.001

29 …But…people with SVs believe relying on moral rules helps them improve consequences: Relationship between the endorsement of two statements: a.“This is the kind of decision where it’s best to rely on moral rules of right and wrong” b.“This is the kind of decision where relying on moral rules of right and wrong will lead to better long-term consequences.”

30 r = 0.74

31 Why might Ps think relying on moral rules works better than weighing costs & benefits? Consequentialism is only as good as our ability to accurately anticipate consequences (research suggests people are not good at this) Decision researchers tend to make a number of “closed-world” assumptions: That Ps will and should limit the information they use to that provided in the scenario itself (i.e., they will not use experience or knowledge they bring to scenario).

32 Other Field Studies Middle-East Palestinian refugees and displaced Israeli Settlers reasoning about potential peace agreements with sacred (e.g. right of return, recognition of Israel) and secular (the UN offers 10 billion a year in aid) components “Taboo versus Taboo+ versus Symbolic”

33 Palestinian recognition of the “sacred right” of Israel b

34 Compromising Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem d

35 Moral absolutist Israeli “settlers” a b

36 Moral absolutist Palestinian “refugees” c d

37 Studies in Guatemala Original work by Atran, Medin et al Itza’ Maya and the forest spirits—sacred values promote sustainability Ladino---forest spirits play no such role

38 Next Generation follow up work by Iliev, Medin, LeGuinn and Atran Social network distance correlated with values from God’s perspective Expert network distance correlated with values from the forest spirit perspective Itza’ Maya (and Ladino) personal values shift from being aligned with forest spirits to cash value and God…..Maya notion of forest spirits replaced by Ladino concepts Forest itself—much more degraded

39 Work in Northern India by Sachdeva, Medin and Ginges Clash between Hindu fundamentalists and Muslims over sacred site of ancient temple and mosque (Ayodhya/Faizabad) and Kashmir More or less replicate Ginges et al that sacred and secular do not mix….more detailed ethnography

40 Where did I go? Faizabad/ Ayodhya Delhi

41 The Babri Masjid/ Ram Janmbhoomi debate Hindus believe this land to be the birthplace of an holy incarnation, Ram. Muslims believe this land to be a mark of the first Mughal emperor to conquer India, Babar. December, thousands of Hindu fundamentalists broke down all the security placed around this site in 1990 and tore the Babri Masjid down. This sparked the worst riots seen in India between Hindus and Muslims since the partition.

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43 Kashmir Issue Began with the struggle for Muslim autonomy in the newly independent India and lead to the partition and creation of Pakistan Kashmir’s Maharaja sought Indian assistance in 1947 when it was invaded by tribes people from Pakistan Three wars have been fought over Kashmir Currently, India holds two-thirds of Kashmir while Pakistan holds the rest

44 Again scenarios with Taboo, Taboo+ and Symbolic Tradeoffs

45 Results Deals with symbolic concessions are better than taboo tradeoffs Taboo+ backfires for Hindu fundamentalists for the sacred site of Ram’s birth and for Muslims for Kashmir But for the other two combinations of scenarios and groups secular concessions may help (analyzing interviews currently)

46 Why are these two sites of interest? Guatemala work shows the unraveling of a sacred value Northern India shows how sacred values may be recruited over time (e.g. the elevation of the God Ram) with violent consequences—destruction of the mosque in 1992 and associated killing that go on to this day

47 Challenges Building Models that address the role of sacred values on moral decision making (see progress by Forbus group), partly because we need a deeper understanding of SVs and partly because they may vary with cultural contexts. With respect to the latter we need to know more about the link between SVs and action (e.g. Amish vs. Fundamentalists)

48 End

49 Protected Values Anti-abortion versus Women’s right to choose

50 Conjunction Fallacy: All three scenarios

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52 Other Results Larger Stroop for value-relevant words Better incidental recall of words

53 Babri Masjid - Symbolic Tradeoffs Across Various Dependent Measures

54 Sacred Values TabooTaboo+ Symbolic Tradeoffs Taboo+ Tradeoffs

55 Acceptability of Deal by Religion n = 8 n = 2 n = 7 n = 10 Symbolic Tradeoffs Taboo+ Tradeoffs

56 Likeliness to Vote for Trade-off Deals by Religion and Sacred Values

57 Summary – Kashmir Scenario Suggest that Muslim participants are, in fact, more sensitive to changes in trade-off type than Hindu participants in this scenario In the Kashmir scenario, Muslim participants with sacred values are less approving of any trade-off deal than Muslim participants without sacred values. However, in in the Babri Masjid scenario, this result is reversed. Different degrees of sacred values –Kashmir issue resonates with the Muslim identity which is even stronger for most Indian Muslim participants than their national identity - therefore stronger attachment to this issue (negative correlation between feelings on Kashmir and Babri Masjid issue) –The Babri Masjid issue is more relevant for the Hindu nationalist identity (strong positive correlation between Kashmir and Babri Masjid issue)

58 Kashmir Scenario – Symbolic Tradeoffs by Religion


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