Moral Psychology

Chuck Huff and Owen Gaasedelen

in Psychology

ISBN: 9780199828340
Published online November 2011 | | DOI:
Moral Psychology

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It is surely the case that the field of moral psychology is in flux today. It was abandoned by personality and social psychology in the 1930s and again in the 1970s because the expected pattern of stability of character or personality characteristics proved illusory (see Mischel 2004 in the Personality section for a historical review). Lawrence Kohlberg’s groundbreaking work in the late 1950s established a cognitive-developmental trajectory, rehabilitating the field and generating thirty years of research centered on the structure and development of conscious moral judgment. The resulting paradigm generated a great deal of research that became foundational to the current flowering of the field. Despite this clear success (or perhaps because of it) this research had a cluster of less salutary effects. Its philosophical commitments required the establishment of conscious reasoning as the only proper moral phenomenon for investigation, with the developmental progression of this reasoning as the central puzzle, making moral psychology a wholly owned subsidiary of developmental psychology (see Narvaez and Lapsley 2009 under Contemporary Overviews). With the gradual demise of this paradigm in the late 1980s, a new excitement is now (2011) growing in the area. A new synthesis combining research on automatic cognitive processing, emotion, neuroscience, and evolution has been proclaimed in Haidt 2007, written by one of the most prolific authors in the field (see Contemporary Overviews), though renewed interest and rapid expansion in the area make claims of synthesis somewhat premature. It is certainly interdisciplinary: philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, and anthropologists alike are collaborating and disputing over the nature and extent of the field. Given this broad interdisciplinary interest, this bibliography will frame the field in an encompassing manner: cited here is work on moral judgment (long the child of privilege) but also on moral perception, intuition, emotion, planning, and action. In short, this discipline is interested in moral action and the influences and processes that support it. Though this is primarily a bibliography of psychological research and theory, it will by necessity contain sections reviewing other disciplines’ contributions (Philosophy, Religion, and Neuroscience). It will also bring to bear literatures in psychology that have not previously been thought to fly the banner of moral psychology. Thus, the organization of this bibliography is itself a theoretical statement about a rapidly evolving field: its contents, its extent, and its integration (or lack thereof). Many of the literatures here do not cite each other or are only beginning to look outside their towers. The issue is framed as taking moral action, in order to include a wide range of psychological processes relevant to being and becoming moral and to broaden the scope beyond the traditional emphasis on moral judgment. Literatures are brought together that have clear relevance for moral psychology, even though they may mention moral issues only in passing. Also examined are the influences, processes, and interdisciplinary context required to engage in this interdisciplinary inquiry.

Article.  10226 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Developmental Psychology ; Health Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology ; Educational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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