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Moral Psychology

Exploring the Banality of Evil

Nina Wang | Posted 09.24.2015 | Crime
Nina Wang

The Act of Killing closes with a scene of one death squad killer retching at the site of many of the murders he committed, after playing the victim in one fictional re-enactment of their crimes - a particularly chilling reminder that ordinary people, not monsters, lie behind even the greatest atrocities in history.

Holy Safety Net! Religion and Recklessness

Wray Herbert | Posted 12.30.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

Psychological scientists suggest that belief in God could actually increase the tendency to take certain risks -- specifically, risks with no moral overlay. Their reasoning is that God is for most believers a source of security and protection, and feeling safe in God's care could diminish fear and boost bravery and daring.

The Meat Paradox: How Carnivores Think About Dinner

Wray Herbert | Posted 04.14.2014 | Science
Wray Herbert

The average American consumes more than 250 pounds of meat a year, an appetite fed by the slaughter of 10 billion animals. Yet we spend a fortune on our pets, too. The fact is that we both care for animals and eat them. How do we manage the psychological tension created by these seemingly conflicting values?

Misdemeanors and Crimes: Is There a Slippery Slope?

Wray Herbert | Posted 10.06.2013 | Science
Wray Herbert

The slippery slope is a psychological puzzle, and the evidence for it is mixed. Why do some slide down the immoral slope while others right themselves?

What a Mess: Chaos and Creativity

Wray Herbert | Posted 04.22.2013 | Science
Wray Herbert

One of the most influential ideas about crime prevention to come out in recent years is something called the "broken windows theory." According to this theory, small acts of deviance -- littering, graffiti, broken windows -- will, if ignored, escalate into more serious crime.

Is Religion Just an Assortment of Gut Feelings?

Wray Herbert | Posted 04.10.2013 | Science
Wray Herbert

The vast majority of the planet's seven billion people ascribe to some kind of religious belief -- that is, a faith in things that cannot be proven. This makes no sense from a scientific and psychological point of view.

Why Ayn Rand Won't Go Away: 'Atlas Shrugged,' Part 2 and the Motor of Moral Psychology

Michael Shermer | Posted 12.12.2012 | Politics
Michael Shermer

Why don't liberals admire Ayn Rand and her philosophy of objectivism, so forcefully presented in this book and film?

Why We Hate Atheists: Fear Of The Faithless

Mark Matousek | Posted 02.26.2012 | Politics
Mark Matousek

Atheists challenge this family system. We stand outside the big tent, wondering why the faithful have so little faith in the inherent goodness of human beings.

The Psychology Of 'Purity'

Wray Herbert | Posted 11.17.2011 | Healthy Living
Wray Herbert

This is the first study to explore the physical embodiment of virtue. Soap and water can literally salve our guilt, and soften our moral judgments of others.

The Link Between Ownership and Creativity

Wray Herbert | Posted 11.17.2011 | Healthy Living
Wray Herbert

New research suggests that our moral judgments about property ownership may be an intuitive process--one more fundamental than society's laws and regulations.

The Psychology of Knock Offs: Why 'Faking It' Makes Us Feel (and Act) Like Phonies

Wray Herbert | Posted 11.17.2011 | Healthy Living
Wray Herbert

That's why we buy knockoffs, isn't it? To polish our self-image--at half the price? But new research suggests that they may not work as magically as we'd like--and indeed may backfire.