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When Is Morality Black and White?

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Edoardo Chidichimo.

Moral cognition is often categorical, with sharp thresholds separating good and evil. However, these boundaries are sometimes blurred, allowing for more graded evaluations. What determines whether moral demarcations manifest in precipitous or gradual forms? In this talk, I will present two new lines of research that explore this question by investigating how people evaluate others’ moral character. First, I will demonstrate how perceivers’ own moral values influence the stringency of their moral character attributions. Next, I will describe tensions that arise between thinking about moral transgressors in categorical as opposed to continuous ways. Together, these recent findings indicate ways in which moral values can yield absolutism, while suggesting possible avenues for increasing nuance in evaluating others’ character traits.

(The Nick Mackintosh Seminar Room is on the second floor of the department.)

This talk is part of the Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) series.

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