Moral Self-Identity Daniel Lapsley Notre Dame Conference on Virtue Development 1 May 22, 2014 www.nd.edu/~dlapsle1/Lab 2 Overview Situate moral self-identity Ethical theory
Developmental psychology Social cognitive accounts of moral personality Chronic accessibility of moral schemas (Lapsley & Narvaez) Centrality of morality within working self concept (Karl Aquino) Developmental pathways In my beginning is my end --T.S. Eliot (East Coker) 3 Major Points
Moral identity reflects the importance of what we care about A moral person engages in strong evaluation But depends on accessibility of moral identity (understood in social cognitive terms) Moral identity can be chronically accessible or have high centrality within working self-concept Or activated or deactivated by situations There is a developmental story Situating Moral Self-Identity 4 Greater interest in drawing tighter connection
between moral agency and personality Charles Taylor Being a self is inescapable from existing in a space of moral issues Augusto Blasi Elevates moral self-identity for understanding moral behavior 5 A person is more likely to follow through on what moral duty requires if the self is constructed on moral foundations i.e., to the extent that one identifies with
morality and cares about it. Harry Frankfurt: The Importance of What We Care About 6 The Importance of What We Care About Persons v. Wantons Persons care about morality Persons reflect upon desires, forms judgments Second-order desires A person orders desires and evaluates them
And wishes to conform behavior accordingly Wantons are beset by first-order desires A wanton doe not care about desirability of his/her desires 7 An individual is a person to the extent s/he engages in strong evaluation Make ethical assessments about first-order desires C. Taylor
Make discriminations about what is higher or lower; worthy or unworthy, better or worse Distinctions made against a horizon of significance Our identity is defined by strong evaluation To know who I am is a species of knowing where I stand C. Taylor (1989) 8 Moral identity is marked by second order volitions and strong evaluation It is defined by reference to things that have significance to us
My identity is defined by the commitments and identifications which provide the frame or horizon within which I can try to determine from case to case what is good or valuable, or what ought to be done or what I endorse or oppose --C. Taylor (1989) The Psychology of Moral Identity 9 The moral self identifies with morality and builds the self around moral commitments Moral commitments cut to the core of who we claim ourselves to be
Morality is essential, central and important to self But not everyone builds the self on morality define the self around other priorities Or emphasize different aspects of morality: justice, care, beneficence 10 Moral identity as a dimension of individual differences, i.e., personality One has a moral identity when moral notions are
central, essential, important to selfunderstanding Failure to act in a way self-consistent with moral commitments is to risk self-betrayal And herein the motivation for moral behavior 11 Motivation of individuals who rescued Jews during Holocaust Moral exemplars Care exemplars Moral exemplars show better identity development
Schemas create and sustain patterns of individual differences Chronically accessible schemas direct attention. Choose schema-compatible tasks, goals, settings Choose environments that canalize dispositional preferences cognitive carriers of dispositions Advantages of Social Cognitive Theory 13 Accounts for felt necessity of moral commitments Exemplars just knew Preconscious activation of chronically accessible schemes
Implicit, tacit and automatic features of moral functioning Automaticity located on the back-end of development as result of repeated experience, of instruction, intentional coaching & socialization 14 An implicit measure of the Moral Self (IAT) successfully predicted moral action (not cheating when reporting outcome of a roll of dice) An explicit measure of the Moral Self predicts performance on hypothetical moral scenarios
Implicit measure of moral identity (IAT) predicted increases in moral outrage but not an explicit measure 15 Reprise Three advantages of social cognitive approach 1.Just knewmoral clarity 2. Implicit, tacit and automaticity of moral judgments 3. Accounts for situational variability Schema accessibility underwrites discriminative facility in selecting situational-appropriate behavior
16 Dan & Darcia A moral person has moral categories chronically accessible Provides dispositional readiness to discern moral dimensions of experience 3 Points 1. Chronically accessible constructs at higher state of activation 2. Can be made accessible by situational priming 3. Accessibility emerges from a development history
17 K. Aquino Moral identity stored in memory: goals, values, scripts, traits Ss whose moral identity occupies greater centrality within selfconcept should perceive that morality is self-defining Higher centrality = greater activation potential But we have multiple identities Situations can activate or prime accessibility Situational factors might win out given recency of activation Moral identity can be activated or deactivated with different priming conditions; Moral identity moderates influence of situational primes
Findings 18 Situational factors that prime moral selfschemas increases its accessibility Effect of priming especially strong on Ss for whom centrality is low Current accessibility related to positive moral intentions and behaviors Moderates influence of situational primes on morally-questionable behavior 19 Individuals with strong moral identity
centrality... Report stronger moral obligation to help and share resources with an out-group (Reed & Aquino, 2003) Prefer to donate personal time for charitable causes vs. just giving money (Reed, Aquino & Levy, 2007) Neutralize effectiveness of moral disengagement strategies (Aquino et al., 2007) Includes more people in circle of moral regard (Hardy et al., 2010) Are more empathic (Detert et al., 2008) Show greater moral attentiveness (Reynolds, 2008) Less aggressive (Barriga et al., 2001)
The Developmental Challenge 20 What developmental experiences lead to chronically accessible moral schemas? Or to the centrality of morality in the working self-concept? How do we get to caring about morality as a second-order desire? 21 Moral chronicity built on foundation of
generalized event representations Darcia & Dan Event representations as basic building blocks of cognitive development Are elaborated in dialogues with caregivers who help children review and consolidate memories in script-like fashion Event representations as the building blocks of the moral personalitysocial cognitive foundation of character the social cognitive foundation of character 22
The key characterological turn of significance: how early social cognitive units are transformed into autobiographical memory Early social cognitive units (Scripts, episodic memory, generalized event representations) Autobiographical memory (a social construction)
At some point specific episodic memories must be integrated into a narrative form that references a self whose story it is, Parental interrogatives 23 What happened when you pushed your sister? What should you do next? Are a scaffold that helps children structure events in a narrative fashion And provides, as part of the self-narrative, action-guiding scripts
I say Im sorry I share with him That become over-learned, routine, habitual, automatic. Parents help children identify morally relevant features of their experience and encourage formation of social cognitive schemas that are chronically accessible. What is the developmental source of moral desires? 24 G. Kochanksa A strong mutually responsive orientation (MRO)
orients the child to be receptive to parental influence Committed compliance to norms & values of attachment figure Motivates moral internalization Secure Attachment Committed Compliance Moral Internalization
25 Children with a strong history of committed compliance come to view themselves as embracing the parents values and rules. Such a moral self, in turn, comes to serve as the regulator of future moral conduct and, more generally, of early morality --Kochanska (2002,p. 340) Wholehearted commitment (Blasian moral identity)
Committed compliance (MRO) 26 Longitudinal assessment: 25 mos., 38mos., 52 mos., 67 mos. & 80 mos. Two, 2-3 hour laboratory session, one with each parent At 38 months, one home and one lab (with each parent) Childs internalization of each parents rules and empathy towards parents distress observed in scripted paradigms at 25mo., 38mo. & 52 mos. Moral self assessed with puppet interview
Adaptive, competent, prosocial and antisocial behavior rated by parents & teachers Moral Self Puppet Assessment 27 Two puppets anchor opposite ends of 31 items The items pertain to dimensions of early conscience (e.g., internalization of rules, empathy, apology, etc) Puppet 1: When I break something, I try to hide it so no one finds out. Puppet 2: When I break something, I tell someone right away.
Then the child is asked: What about you? Do you try to hide something that you broke or do you tell someone right away? 28 Children who as toddlers & preschoolers had strong history of internalized outof-sight compliance with parents rules Were competent, engaged, prosocial with few antisocial
behavioral problems at early school age Strong history of empathic responding at toddlers/preschool Psychosocial competence at early school age What mechanism accounts for this beneficial effect? The Moral Self Childrens moral self robustly predicted future competent behavior
Children at 67 mos. who were highly moral were rated at 80 mos. as highly competent, prosocial and having few antisocial problems 29 30 31 How does the moral self execute its inner guidance role? Mechanisms not completely clear Kochanka suggests avoidance of cognitive dissonance
anticipation of guilty feelings, automatic regulation due to high accessibility of moral schemas In the end is my beginning --T.S. Eliot (East Coker) 32 Major Points Moral identity reflects the importance of what we care about A moral person engages in strong evaluation
But depends on accessibility of moral identity (understood in social cognitive terms) Moral identity can be chronically accessible or have high centrality within working self-concept Or activated or deactivated by situations There is a developmental story 33
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