What will people do for money?

by Deborah Braconnier report

(PhysOrg.com) -- At the April 4, 2011 annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society the subject of moral dilemmas and what people would really do was addressed. In a study presented by Oriel FeldmanHall of Cambridge University shows that when it comes to moral studies, hypothetical scenarios do not work to determine the complexities of what people’s real decisions would be.

FeldmanHall’s study showed that what people say they will do in a given situation and what they really do are two very different things. If given a hypothetical situation of a choice of giving someone an electrical shock for money or walking away, most people answered they would never be able to inflict pain on another person.

However, in a real-life scenario, with real money and real electric shocks, the actions were much different. In FeldmanHall’s study, subjects were placed in an MRI scanner and then given the choice to either administer an electrical shock to a person located in another room and make money (one British pound) or not inflict pain and receive no money. They also broke down that one pound into percentages based on the severity of the shock, so they would receive the full pound for administering a severe shock and less for more mild shocks.

The subject in the MRI was shown a video of the person receiving the shock and would either see just the person’s hand jerk or be shown both the hand jerk and the person’s face. Each participant was given the choice to shock another person 20 times, with the opportunity to make 20 pounds.

In the hypothetical scenario, 64 percent of participants said they would never administer a shock to someone else for money. However, in the real world that number changed, and in a big way. When faced with real money, 96 percent chose to shock the person in the other room for .

What seemed to make the difference in how many of those 20 chances the participants took was what video they were watching. On average, those watching just the hands jerk walked away with 15.77 pounds, but those watching the faces as well, left with only 11.55 pounds.

The study also showed that when these individuals were presented with a moral dilemma, they showed heightened activity in the insula, a part of the brain believed to be attached to emotion. It is this lack of emotion and real dilemma that FeldmanHall believes is what is missing in traditional hypothetical dilemmas.

The hope of using these types of studies is to determine how the brain dictates compassion and moral behavior in individuals.

More information:
via Wired

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dogbert
2.6 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2011
It would be nice to know the number of people involved in the study, ages, sex and other selection criteria.

"When faced with real money, 96 percent chose to shock the person in the other room for money."

That is a terrible indictment of humanity. I don't believe that the results mirror what the average person would do.
Quantum_Conundrum
3.5 / 5 (13) Apr 08, 2011
That is a terrible indictment of humanity. I don't believe that the results mirror what the average person would do.


Sure it does. That's what capitalism is all about: Money.

"The love of money is the(definite article) root of all evil."

You think human beings are "good"? Not hardly.

Take a history course. All of human history is nothing but murder, rape, theft, and war. It's almost the only thing you even study in history courses in school and college.

Even our "legal" systems of government and economics are based on curruption and deception. Advertising is all about how big a lie you can get someone else to believe about your product.

Even allegedly "good" people will do just about anything for money.
bloodyanarch
5 / 5 (6) Apr 08, 2011
eh, certainly this isn't a shining example of humanity, but this test isn't exactly perfect either. I mean if a scientist pulled me into a lab and asked me to "shock" someone for money. I'd have to think that there is no way they'd let me hurt someone... if it was even real. I might even convince my self that the other person being shocked was also getting paid.
It was nice to see that when shown the face of the person they were shocking the less money they made. It goes hand in hand with what I see on the internet.. Costs nothing to slam someone you can't see.
NotAsleep
4.4 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2011
QC, I hope you're a teenager. At least that means you've still got a chance to grow up and get a clue. If you're ever passed out in a burning building and a fireman risks his life to drag you out, I want you to really ask yourself if he's risking his life for the money or if he's risking his life for you.

I don't know if the evil outnumber the good but the evil sure get more media attention. Good people don't behave like they do for attention. It's bad on you for not getting to know these people in your community better. They're there, stop being so lazy and try talking to them
Inflaton
5 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2011
I would have to disagree with you QC. I would say that an appetite for power is a better candidate for the "root of all evil".
dogbert
3.8 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2011
bloodyanarch,

There is also a commitment to the study that participants have already made. Conflicts between a commitment to the study and desire to not harm might account for some of the poor outcome.
gwargh
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 08, 2011
I don't know if the evil outnumber the good but the evil sure get more media attention. Good people don't behave like they do for attention. It's bad on you for not getting to know these people in your community better. They're there, stop being so lazy and try talking to them

Apples and oranges. The point of this study is that given a comparably small bad deed to perform (one they are capable of rationalizing, as bloodyanarch points out), they will do it for money. I highly doubt anyone would have taken the money if they sincerely believed they would cause serious harm to the other person. Save a person from a fire, risking your life? Sure. Slap a person lightly to get a couple of bucks? Why not?
NotAsleep
5 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2011
Slap a person lightly to get a couple of bucks? Why not?

Because some of us actually live by our morals
Tyzenstein
5 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2011
I'd like to see a study done to determine how many shocks the average world of warcraft addict would inflict for sex.
droid001
not rated yet Apr 08, 2011
It didn't mean those 96 percent are bad people.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2011
The electric shock test has been done to demonstrate that people will do this because they were ordered to by authorities.
gwargh
4 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2011
The electric shock test has been done to demonstrate that people will do this because they were ordered to by authorities.

They weren't ordered, they were given an option in which refusing to do so carried no negatives.
RJS
5 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2011
The average of 15.77 represents the center of the distribution, with probably very wide tails. An interesting study would be social breakdown: politicians, military and managers have been shown to have a high degree of pyscho-pathology (Glasgow Caledonian) they would form the 19+ pound tail.
Re comments above, empaths and pacifists surround themselves with people like themselves (as do all); their statistical beliefs invariably reflect it - an observation bias.

What wasn't tested was the % which would do it if not watching any pain response (19.5?), or better yet, if they got to collect money by inflicting anonymous pain by proxy, keeping their hands "clean".
"I highly doubt anyone would have taken the money if they sincerely believed they would cause serious harm to the other person."
War, supported for GDP-necessary resources, is the obvious contrary rebuttal.
bloodyanarch
5 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2011
What would really be interesting is to take the person who wasgiving the shock and put him in the room afterwards with the person recieving the shock and arrange to see if they shock giver would share the money, with thew shock taker under a variety of situations... i.e. was paid also, was not paid
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (6) Apr 08, 2011
The electric shock test has been done to demonstrate that people will do this because they were ordered to by authorities.

They weren't ordered, they were given an option in which refusing to do so carried no negatives.

But it did carry 'positives' from the authority figure.
frajo
5 / 5 (2) Apr 08, 2011
I'm surprised that nobody remembers the Milgram experiments some 50 years ago which had just the same outcome.
Did the researchers ensure that none of the test subjects knew of the Milgram experiment?
Fig1024
5 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2011
"96 percent chose to shock the person in the other room for money" I'm disappointed in humanity.
I'd be sort of understanding if money was ranged in 1000s of dollars, but 1-20? pathetic people
dogbert
4 / 5 (4) Apr 08, 2011
"I'd be sort of understanding if money was ranged in 1000s of dollars, but 1-20? pathetic people"

I'm disappointed without regard to the amount of money offered.
Fig1024
not rated yet Apr 08, 2011
Well if it was 1000s of dollars, you could donate it to charity or use it other ways to help people. I do believe that small bad deeds can be made up for by larger good.
In reality, nearly all decisions have good and bad sides, just that good should be larger in most cases.
dogbert
4.3 / 5 (6) Apr 08, 2011
Well if it was 1000s of dollars, you could donate it to charity or use it other ways to help people. I do believe that small bad deeds can be made up for by larger good.


Many atrocities have been committed "for the greater good".

Your argument is just rationalization.
pauljpease
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2011
@RJS, best comment on thread!

I'm shocked at the lack of depth of thought demonstrated by these posts, and by the research itself. So many here casually brushing off "small" bad deeds. How do you know if a bad deed is small or not? For example, what if one of the people in this study who was shocked left the lab afterwards with a higher-than-usual level of anxiety? It's pretty much guaranteed that they did, since pain tends to heighten the stress response. Now, that person does something else bad that they never would have done without that extra stress they were feeling because they were shocked. Ad infinitum. Or maybe you're really nice to someone, which gives them a little hit of dopamine, they lose judgement for a second and run over a kid crossing the street. The point is, as finite beings, we know not what we do. All we can do is ask for forgiveness. Sad to see no one mention the law of karma (cause-and-effect).
Fig1024
2.8 / 5 (4) Apr 09, 2011
paul, but that's typical slippery slope fallacy. Nothing is ever black and white, people have make judgment calls all the time. There's no absolute measurements for good and bad deeds, everyone has to learn to judge for themselves.

For example, electricity shock experiments happen all the time. Shocking people is bad, yet the results of the experiments are deemed worthy of the extra suffering they cause - in the long term.

Also, karma isn't a law, it's not even a theory.
pauljpease
2.5 / 5 (2) Apr 09, 2011
Fig,

karma means cause-and-effect. You don't believe in cause-and-effect? Without cause-and-effect, we couldn't even have theories! Also, you completely missed the point of my post, judging by your statement "everyone has to learn to judge for themselves". My whole point is that we can't judge, because we do not know. Actually, my whole point was that the level of the discussion was pretty low, I mean, no mention of free will vs. determinism? How can an act be considered good or bad if it's all just a consequence of the laws of physics (aka karma)? And speaking of slippery slopes, you're dangerously close to one with your assertion that

Shocking people is bad, yet the results of the experiments are deemed worthy of the extra suffering they cause - in the long term.


Who draws that line and makes that distinction? Again, finite beings, with imperfect knowledge and limited resources moving according to the law of karma (cause-and-effect).
HeyDude
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2011
Where is the study for the group of people that would shock people for free? I'd shock people just for the fun of it. Better yet, I'd record that shit and upload it to youTube or Break.
ironjustice
1.7 / 5 (6) Apr 09, 2011
One cannot simply grab people off the street to conduct the study because they have shown there is a difference in morality between subjects. They have shown atheists and religionists to be morally different. Atheists being of low moral character.
"Farming's rise cultivated fair deals"
RJS
5 / 5 (2) Apr 09, 2011
They have shown atheists and religionists to be morally different. Atheists being of low moral character.


Complete FUDD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt and Disinformation), or troll...

Pyysiainen and Hauser showed in Trends in Cognitive Sciences: "In fact, a considerable amount of work in this area shows that moral judgments are relatively immune to the explicit moral dictates of both religious and legal institutions,"

The Journal of Religion & Society: "Paul found that secular societies have lower rates of violence and teenage pregnancy than societies where many people profess belief in God"

"The New Criminology", Schlapp and Smith: "two generations of statisticians found that the ratio of convicts without religious training is about 1/10 of 1%" - skepticfiles.org/american/prison.htm
frajo
4.8 / 5 (4) Apr 09, 2011
They have shown atheists and religionists to be morally different. Atheists being of low moral character.
Complete FUDD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt and Disinformation), or troll...
Yes.
"The New Criminology", Schlapp and Smith: "two generations of statisticians found that the ratio of convicts without religious training is about 1/10 of 1%" - skepticfiles.org/american/prison.htm
After having read the site I'm underwhelmed by its level of argumentation. The percentages of denominations among prison inmates don't tell much without knowing their percentages in the general population. Worse, this rhetoric is omitting every consideration of the existing correlations between denominations and social status.
I strongly assume that agnostics have a considerably higher social status which would explain for their presumably low percentage among inmates even after correction for their low percentage in the general population.

Rhetorics of this kind are not enlightening.
RJS
not rated yet Apr 09, 2011
The percentages of denominations among prison inmates don't tell much without knowing their percentages in the general population.


16.1%
religions.pewforum.org/reports

Worse, this rhetoric is omitting every consideration of the existing correlations between denominations and social status.


Fallacy; via "Barry Kosmin" 1989, atheists averaged 15% greater income than theists, which must somehow explain the 8 times less incarceration.
Also,
"The bicausal relation between religion and income"
peer.ccsd.cnrs.fr/docs/00/58/22/86/PDF/PEER_stage2_10.1080%252F00036840802600442.pdf
shows varied to negligible effect of religion on income in their meta analysis - the bicausal analysis shows that the apparent correlation is heteroscedastic; the # of children is shown to be the causal driver.

Rhetorics of this kind are not enlightening


Much better general references then: freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Percentage_of_atheists
Moebius
1.3 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2011
The answer is anything. The reason there are so many horrible things done every single day is that there is ALWAYS someone willing to do it. There's no need to invoke the devil, each of us is someones devil.
frajo
5 / 5 (5) Apr 10, 2011
There's no need to invoke the devil, each of us is someones devil.
It's not this simple. There are people who actively try to avoid doing damage to innocent people. And there are people who just don't care at all for "collateral damages".
dogbert
3 / 5 (2) Apr 10, 2011
It's not this simple. There are people who actively try to avoid doing damage to innocent people. And there are people who just don't care at all for "collateral damages".


And then there are people like HeyDude who enjoy causing pain to others.

I do not accept the study's claim that only 4 people out of one hundred have the moral strength to refuse to harm others for money.
byu
5 / 5 (2) Apr 10, 2011
The experiment results are that 96% were willing to do what they were asked to do for money. That's it. Take the same group of people and hire them full time to injure other people for no reason at all. Eight hours a day, five days a week, two week vacation, benefits. They won't do it.
dogbert
3 / 5 (2) Apr 10, 2011
The experiment results are that 96% were willing to do what they were asked to do for money. That's it. Take the same group of people and hire them full time to injure other people for no reason at all. Eight hours a day, five days a week, two week vacation, benefits. They won't do it.


You are saying that 96% of people have selective morals -- morals of convenience. I don't believe it. Either there was something in the test which caused the subjects to believe that no real harm was being done, or the selection of the subject group was skewed in such a way as to be unrepresentative of the general population, or both.

The group was necessarily small. Was the group selected from Cambridge University students? Was the group a random selection of students or a select group of students, and what was the selection criteria?

There is no indication at all that the group was representative of the general population.
Moebius
1 / 5 (2) Apr 10, 2011
There's no need to invoke the devil, each of us is someones devil.
It's not this simple. There are people who actively try to avoid doing damage to innocent people. And there are people who just don't care at all for "collateral damages".


You're right but many times do-gooders are so stupid they don't realize the harm they are doing. You don't have to be actively trying to do evil to be someones devil.

For example, I was driving in the left lane of a 2 lane road and a do-gooder in the right lane decided to stop and let someone on the right pull out. He rammed me and totaled my car. That idiot do-gooder wasn't trying to do evil, he was just stupid, should have minded his own business and drive. Instead he became my devil and I ended up with a totaled Camaro.

Take look at yourself and no matter how good a person you are you have probably been someones devil. And the people who aren't good are always someones devil

Take Geokstr, he does nothing but vote my posts 1
frajo
not rated yet Apr 10, 2011
It's not this simple. There are people who actively try to avoid doing damage to innocent people. And there are people who just don't care at all for "collateral damages".
And then there are people like HeyDude who enjoy causing pain to others.
Yes, they are the most appalling cases. I think these people are suffering from a malfunctioning endocrine and/or neural system.
I do not accept the study's claim that only 4 people out of one hundred have the moral strength to refuse to harm others for money.
Do read about the Milgram experiment (on Wikipedia or elsewhere) 50 years ago and all the subsequent research. ("14 Yale senior-year psychology majors assumed that only zero to 3 percent of the participants would inflict the maximum voltage.")
It's about how most people leave their morals aside when confronted by some authority with "higher values" and thereby feeling exempted from personal responsibility.
frajo
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 10, 2011
The experiment results are that 96% were willing to do what they were asked to do for money. That's it. Take the same group of people and hire them full time to injure other people for no reason at all. Eight hours a day, five days a week, two week vacation, benefits. They won't do it.
The simple trick to have them do exactly this is to give them some "reason".
Otherwise there would be more than one Bradley Manning.
frajo
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 10, 2011
You're right but many times do-gooders are so stupid they don't realize the harm they are doing. You don't have to be actively trying to do evil to be someones devil.
Unintended harm is painful but somehow natural - something humans are used to cope with. That's why I included the word "actively".
Take look at yourself and no matter how good a person you are you have probably been someones devil.
There are persons who drive others crazy because they prove that one really can live without doing harm to others. They are objects of hate for some.

Take Geokstr, he does nothing but vote my posts 1
He is unknowingly giving you the opportunity to enhance your capacity to be patient :)
Moebius
1 / 5 (1) Apr 10, 2011
I should say Geokstr is TRYING to be my devil, no patience required. If I cared I would just change my user name. It's more likely I am his. LOL

If anyone here is my devil it's this website with their idiotic 1000 character limit and their 3 minute wait for a second posting. It should be 1500 and 1 minute, but that would take some common sense.
xznofile
not rated yet Apr 11, 2011
Anyone who reads or watches TV will tell you the basic plot is about money. a more interesting survey would be what kind of people feel secure enough to not extend their personal entitlement to other peoples welfare. Maybe hippies had morals after all.
Magnette
not rated yet Apr 11, 2011
I'd be interested to see what would happen to the four that refused to inflict pain if they increased the financial offer made.
Maybe £1 wasn't enough but £5 would be sufficient incentive to press the button....in some people do morals have a price?
Quasi_Intellectual
5 / 5 (2) Apr 11, 2011
I'd happily shock myself for 1$/zap.
It wouldn't be too different from my last job, working at a bubblewrap factory.
The static electricity jolts I recieved at a daily basis gave me a 20% resistance to electricity, and -2 to WIS and INT.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Apr 11, 2011
Even allegedly "good" people will do just about anything for money.


What have you done for money lately? :)
rgwalther
5 / 5 (5) Apr 11, 2011
What have you done for money lately? :)


Not Much, on disability. If I were in a room and being asked to torture people for small amounts of money, first I would check to see if there were any nuns around. If no nuns, I would smack the person in charge of such madness with a heavy object and then take all of the money.
rgwalther
5 / 5 (1) Apr 11, 2011
Where is the study for the group of people that would shock people for free? I'd shock people just for the fun of it. Better yet, I'd record that shit and upload it to youTube or Break.


Anything that labels itself 'dude' would be expected to think and act in the manner claimed.
Modernmystic
3 / 5 (2) Apr 11, 2011
Not Much, on disability. If I were in a room and being asked to torture people for small amounts of money, first I would check to see if there were any nuns around. If no nuns, I would smack the person in charge of such madness with a heavy object and then take all of the money.


See, now that's using your head. I wouldn't have thought of it, but that's the best answer yet.
whatswrongwithhumanity
3.5 / 5 (2) Apr 11, 2011
As sad as it is to say, Human kind is, and has been, absolutely horrid to each other for thousands of years. Wars, torture and the like. Who are we to assume that now that we have reached some plateau of consciousness that we have somehow changed from our innate nature.

I have to say I wish we have, because it is sad what the few do to the many. Our world is falling apart from all the pollution, destruction, and overuse we put it through that is saddening to see that more aren't trying to solve the issues that are so obvious and prevalent.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Apr 11, 2011
There are persons who drive others crazy because they prove that one really can live without doing harm to others. They are objects of hate for some.
Your willful naivete causes me pain.
frajo
4 / 5 (4) Apr 12, 2011
There are persons who drive others crazy because they prove that one really can live without doing harm to others. They are objects of hate for some.
Your willful naivete causes me pain.
You want to use the term "naivete" for the art to make others feel lesser beings? So be it.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Apr 12, 2011
Feel lesser? Lesser because you think that attack is never an option or that one can live without having to hurt those who would endeavor to hurt you first? This sort of dogma only lasts until you are threatened, either as an individual or as a society. Thwarting a potential thief or attacker might cause them pain. Too bad. Khaddafis forces are now suffering from NATO incursion. Too bad. Laurent Gbagbo probably feels very depressed at the moment. Too bad.

Angriff ist de beste Verteidigung. Your eurodisney ideology is cloying.
CHollman82
3.5 / 5 (4) Apr 12, 2011
One cannot simply grab people off the street to conduct the study because they have shown there is a difference in morality between subjects. They have shown atheists and religionists to be morally different. Atheists being of low moral character.
"Farming's rise cultivated fair deals"


What a bunch of stupid horseshit coming out of your ignorant mouth...

If anything it is the opposite, there is a large discrepancy in the per-capita adjusted population of Christians vs. Atheists in prison. I'll find the statistics if you would like.

Atheist morals stem from reason, religious morals stem from fear. If you must be told to be good, if you must be threatened to be good, then you are not a moral person.
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2011
Malleable morality is not moral.

For example, the statement that someone will not harm another for a buck but will harm another for 10,000 dollars is not a moral statement.

Morality not based on an unchanging standard is no morality at all. At best is is only congruent with cultural mores.
rgwalther
5 / 5 (2) Apr 12, 2011
For example, the statement that someone will not harm another for a buck but will harm another for 10,000 dollars is not a moral statement.

Guy walks over to a girl and says: "Will you have sex with me for $1 miilion dollars?"
The girl replies, "Sure!"
The guy then says , "Will you have sex with me for $5 dollars?"
The girl says, "Absolutely not, what do you think I am?"
The guy says: "We've already decided that, we are just negotiating over the price."
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2011
rgwalther ,
Winston Churchill is credited with a similar statement.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 12, 2011
Morality not based on an unchanging standard is no morality at all. At best is is only congruent with cultural mores.
-You mean like the way your god tells the Israelites to slaughter the canaanites in the OT and then says to love them in the NT? You mean that kind of malleable?

You are naive.
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Apr 13, 2011
You mean like the way your god tells the Israelites to slaughter the canaanites in the OT and then says to love them in the NT? You mean that kind of malleable?


You fail to see the difference in the operations of nations and the lives of individuals.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (4) Apr 13, 2011
You fail to see the difference in the operations of nations and the lives of individuals.
You fail to see that nations are entirely composed of individuals. If morality must be based on an unchanging standard, as you believe, then those groups of individuals would have no inclination to kill based on their individual morality.

Such is your hypocrisy.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 13, 2011
You mean like the way your god tells the Israelites to slaughter the canaanites in the OT and then says to love them in the NT? You mean that kind of malleable?


You fail to see the difference in the operations of nations and the lives of individuals.
-You mean how Lot commingled with his daughters because they thought they were the last of their nation, and god let it slide? You mean that kind of malleable then? Or when Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac just to prove a point? There's lots more-
CHollman82
4.5 / 5 (4) Apr 13, 2011
Morality not based on an unchanging standard is no morality at all. At best is is only congruent with cultural mores.


Anything based on an unchanging standard is woefully ignorant. To assert a static ideal in the face of a dynamic reality is to ignore that reality.
dogbert
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 13, 2011
Chollman82,

An argument that morality is malleable is an argument that there is no morality or need for morality.

Certainly, many reject morality and/or moral behavior, but there are moral standards and there are people who strive to act in a moral manner.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.6 / 5 (5) Apr 13, 2011
An argument that morality is malleable is an argument that there is no morality or need for morality.
Then you should stop arguing as such as your personal morality, according to your words above, is malleable based on the number of like-minded participants.

You believe that morality arises from authority. We do not.

If we were all in a classroom and the teacher told us to turn to our neighbor and punch him in the face, we'd say no, you'd start swinging. The 'rules' of morality are emergent phenomina, regulated by the environment and the participants. This explains the descrepancies between the various depictions of God or gods and morality, as well as suitably addressing why different cultures have entirely different rulesets. For example: Do you think it is moral to have slaves? The Bible has no problem with it. We do. Where do you stand on the topic.

Educate yourself and please take a logic course.
CHollman82
4.7 / 5 (3) Apr 13, 2011
An argument that morality is malleable is an argument that there is no morality or need for morality.


Natural morality (as opposed to taught/learned/enforced morality) is derived from empathy. Empathy, if you are unaware, is ones ability to consider the circumstances of another in terms of oneself (to put oneself into anothers shoes). Your personal idea and opinion of morality (absent of/prior to external corruption) is based on your personal perception and understanding of the world.

An example:
It is difficult to empathize with an ant, because we don't really know what it's like to be an ant. We make certain assumptions about it and these assumptions lead to our opinion of and treatment of ants. Would you hesitate to step on an ant? Why or why not? Would it change your opinion if you knew that ants suffer horrible pain and agony when stepped on? How about if you knew that ants have familial units and experience love and grief and other emotions just like us?
CHollman82
4.3 / 5 (3) Apr 13, 2011
cont'd.

Of course I am not saying that any of this is true about ants... the point is your willingness to crush them without a second thought is due to your inability to empathize with them and the assumptions you've made about them, assumptions that may be wrong.

That is the origin of morality... moral behavior is an expression of empathy combined with the expectation of reciprocal altruism. Like SH said it is an emergent trait and is shaped by the nature of reality... and reality is dynamic.
Modernmystic
2.5 / 5 (2) Apr 13, 2011
Like SH said it is an emergent trait and is shaped by the nature of reality... and reality is dynamic.


Reality is, but not the concept of empathy as you describe it, or reciprocation or altruism. These are not malleable. There's where your neat little world view falls flat on it's face.
CHollman82
5 / 5 (1) Apr 13, 2011
You're going to have to do better than that... I gave you a specific example of the subject, and therefore dynamic, nature of empathy.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Apr 13, 2011
Reality is, but not the concept of empathy as you describe it, or reciprocation or altruism. These are not malleable. There's where your neat little world view falls flat on it's face.
Well I'm going to respectfully disagree with you on this one. Let's say you see someone stub their toe and they make a massive production of it. You will empathize more with them if you had never stubbed your toe, than if you had repeatedly stubbed your toe in the past.
GSwift7
1.5 / 5 (2) Apr 13, 2011
I like the part of the study where they say that experimental results do not mirror real world results. For example, if you ask someone what they would do if they won the lottery or if they were in the shoes of a person in a disaster, the answer they will give you has very little credibility unless they have actually been there before.

Keep in mind that people are not born with morals. That is a learned behavior. Natural instincts favor survival and reproduction. Everything else follows that either directly or indirectly.

Everyone has a price. You can get anyone to do anything if you offer them the right incentive. You can sit here and deny it, but as stated in the original post, you can't know how you would react until you are really in the situation.

My ex wife would give shocks for free then take the victims' money when they were passed out.

TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Apr 13, 2011
That is the origin of morality... moral behavior is an expression of empathy combined with the expectation of reciprocal altruism.
-Where'd you get that? Some moldy old psych book?

'Morality' as reflected in societies originates in evolutionary tribal behavior. The successful tribes were those whose internal cohesion based on mutual trust could be coupled with concerted animosity toward their enemies.
http://rechten.el...RID2.pdf

Civilization has progressed by extending the perception of ones own tribe over ever-larger groups, even to identifying animals as kin. This is why we might look at a squirrel and want to feed rather than eat it. It's been a very thorough and quite astounding transformation for many. I just saw a video of a housecat nuzzling a dolphin. They're also domesticated to varying degrees; one by training, the other by breeding, like us.
CHollman82
5 / 5 (1) Apr 13, 2011
-Where'd you get that? Some moldy old psych book?


You didn't say anything different than I did... What do you think I meant by "expectation of reciprocal altruism"?

Furthermore, if you discount empathy in a discuss of morality you are far off track... The only reason we care about anyone but ourselves is our ability to empathize with them.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Apr 13, 2011
-Where'd you get that? Some moldy old psych book?


You didn't say anything different than I did... What do you think I meant by "expectation of reciprocal altruism"?

Furthermore, if you discount empathy in a discuss of morality you are far off track... The only reason we care about anyone but ourselves is our ability to empathize with them.
In a tribal context. And the only reason we dont care about someone is because we perceive them as outside the tribe. I think to understand morality fully you also have to understand that it has a negative, defensive side to it.

It is moral to oppose enemies because it benefits the tribe.

It is only because we have been conditioned to accept most others as 'members' that we may feel altruistic toward them. This is not so with perhaps the majority of humanity, but it is common in the west to varying degrees, yes?
frajo
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 14, 2011
The only reason we care about anyone but ourselves is our ability to empathize with them.
No, there's more to it. Security. Aesthetics.
Would you hesitate to step on an ant? Why or why not?
Yes. Because I can't undo it. Aesthetics.

You can get anyone to do anything if you offer them the right incentive.
Provabel wrong. For technical (no ability to fly) and for historical (Giordano Bruno etc.) reasons.
Natural instincts favor survival and reproduction.
No. Not few people follow their natural instinct to leave this rotten world.
ZephirAWT
Apr 14, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Apr 14, 2011
to frajo:

ability to fly? I was only talking about things that are possible. What I mean is that you can get a person to do a thing they consider to be a very bad thing, if you give them the right reason to do it. I'm not just talking about offering someone money as an incentive, obviously, but there is a point where you can get anyone to do anything (as long as it is possible).

Natural instincts favor survival and reproduction.
No. Not few people follow their natural instinct to leave this rotten world


if you are talking about suicide, that is not natural instinct. That is a learned behavior. What I said is true. People who kill themselves are not following their instincts.