Alabama has been known historically and lately for the “moral” decision making made by the state’s leadership. These decisions often lead to extremely poor consequences and new research published in the open access peer reviewed journal Public Library of Science on November 28, 2012, explains how and why such behaviors occur.
The authors conclude “”Once an issue is declared moral, people’s judgments about that issue become more extreme, and they are more likely to apply those judgments to others.” “The failure, for example, to
consider the pragmatic implications of certain decisions could lead to unnecessarily swift or extreme decisions. Conversely, the failure to consider the moral implications of one’s actions may ultimately
lead people to act immorally in pursuit of pragmatic ends”
“Previous research has suggested that moral reasoning usually occurs after a person makes a decision, as a post hoc justification of their choice, rather than the basis for the decision itself. This new study suggests that people can evaluate choices using either moral or non-moral considerations, and this can lead to different choices for the same actions. “
The study was based on the reactions of three experiments at Ohio State’s Social Cognitive Science lab in which they prompted subjects to evaluate a variety of decisions from either moral or non-moral (pragmatic) standpoints. In the first experiment, participants were presented with 104 actions, one at a time, on a desktop computer. Participants made moral evaluations for 52 actions using the keyboard, rating “how morally wrong/right it would be for you to” take a specific action, ranging from 1 (very wrong) to 7 (very right); they also made pragmatic evaluations for the other 52 actions, rating “how personally bad/good you think it would be for you to” take a specific action, ranging from 1 (very bad) to 7 (very good). Following each moral and pragmatic judgment, participants made universality judgments for the same action, rating “how many other people should” take a specific action (1 = nobody to 7 = everybody).
The take away message is that a moral decision is a predisposition that can be changed. The results show little variation between a moral based decision process and a totally hedonistic based decision. The moderation of pragmatism is seen as a necessity in decisions that affect individuals and large groups.
Political posturing based on “morality” may have been an Alabama staple in the past but a pragmatic approach may proffer better solutions to the multitude of problems facing Alabama.
Of a certainty the “moral” response from Alabama will be the research was done by Yankees and Canadians.
The research is well timed considering the advancement of Roy Moore to the position of Chief Justice of Alabama and to the religious uproar caused by what people see as an attempt to stage a religious takeover in Egypt.
The Importance of Moral Construal: Moral versus Non- Moral Construal Elicits Faster, More Extreme, Universal Evaluations of the Same Actions
Jay J. Van Bavel 1*, Dominic J. Packer 2, Ingrid Johnsen Haas 3, William A. Cunningham 4
1 New York University, New York, New York, United States of America, 2 Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States of America, 3 Department of Political
Science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, United States of America, 4 The University of Toronto, The Ohio State University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada