Sunday, March 31, 2019

It is possible that in the past, marriage led to increased levels of happiness and better health, but modern, sophisticated research is proving contrary today

Does Marriage Make You Happier in the Long Term? Studies show that marriage loses steam quite quickly. Elyakim Kislev. Psychology Today, Mar 31, 2019,

Marriage has been woven into the fabric of society throughout history. The idea has been: Find your “soulmate,” marry that individual, and you will be infinitely happy. Numerous studies in the 20th and early 21st centuries have glorified and portrayed marriage as benevolent and beneficial to all, and have stigmatized what it means to be single. [...]

However, newer studies are proving that married people are not happier and healthier as was previously believed.

An award-winning study ( on more than 24,000 German adults found that people who got married tended to be a bit happier in the year of the wedding, but eventually their happiness returned to where it was prior. [...]

Another study (, based on data from a national, 17-year, 5-wave panel sample, finds declines in happiness levels at all marital durations with no support for an upturn in marital happiness in later years. It is striking to see that this finding has a biological basis in the brain chemical phenylethylamine (or PEA), which associates with feelings of well-being. The researchers of the latter study argue that the decline in happiness (and the frequency of sexual activity) may occur either because neurons become habituated to the effects of PEA or because of a decline in the levels of PEA over time.

Yet another study ( of data from the 1984-2004 German Socio-Economic Panel supports the conclusions of the previous studies. In this study, the authors also find no evidence that children affect life satisfaction. The authors state that the typical explanation for the benefits of marriage is the “social support” that people derive from their partner. There is a positive effect of companionship, emotional support, and sustained sexual intimacy. However, these benefits dwindle after time, [...].

Even other studies that show a slight, lasting happiness advantage conferred by marriage admit that this uptick is partly due to the selection effect ( whereby happier people tend to marry rather than marriage bringing happiness to the ones who were less happy to begin with.

It is therefore possible that in the past, marriage led to increased levels of happiness and better health. But modern, sophisticated research is proving contrary. Society must catch up and begin to dissolve the generations’ long misconception of marriage as the societal ideal. Single people can and do live happy lives. If you are looking to live a fulfilling and happy life, thinking long term shows that marriage should not be the most important factor.

This article was written with Lindsay Workman, UC Berkeley.

Optimism increased throughout early & middle adulthood before plateauing at age 55; experience of positive events was associated with optimism development across adulthood; negative life events were not associated with development

Optimism Development Across Adulthood and Associations With Positive and Negative Life Events. Ted Schwaba et al. Social Psychological and Personality Science, March 21, 2019.

Abstract: Numerous studies have demonstrated long-term benefits of optimism for physical and mental health. However, little research has examined how optimism develops across the life span and how it is shaped by positive and negative life experiences. In this study, we examined the normative trajectory of optimism development from ages 26 to 71 in a longitudinal sample (N = 1,169) of Mexican-origin couples assessed 4 times across 7 years. Latent growth curve analyses indicated that optimism increased throughout early and middle adulthood before plateauing at age 55, with significant individual differences in change. Furthermore, the experience of positive events was associated with optimism development across adulthood, but negative life events were not associated with development. Men and women developed similarly in optimism, while U.S.-born participants developed differently from Mexican-born participants. We discuss how these findings inform our understanding of optimism as a dynamic, adaptive construct.

Keywords: optimism/pessimism, personality development, adult personality development

Adolescent Norwegian rats show prosocial behavior even when they can escape without helping

Carvalheiro, J., Seara-Cardoso, A., Mesquita, A. R., de Sousa, L., Oliveira, P., Summavielle, T., & Magalhães, A. (2019). Helping behavior in rats (Rattus norvegicus) when an escape alternative is present. Journal of Comparative Psychology, Mar 2019.

Abstract: Prosocial behavior in rats is known to occur in response to a familiar rat’s distress, but the motivations underlying prosocial behavior remain elusive. In this study, we adapted the experimental setting of Ben-Ami Bartal, Decety, and Mason (2011) to explore different motivations behind helping behavior in adolescent rats. In the original setting, a free rat is placed in an arena where a cagemate is trapped inside a restrainer that can only be opened from the outside by the free rat. Here we added a dark compartment to the experimental setting that allowed the free rat to escape the arena and the distress evoked by the trapped cagemate, based on rodents’ aversion to bright areas. As a control, we tested rats in the same arena but with the door to the dark area closed. Our results showed that all free rats, except one in the escape condition, learned to open the restrainer’s door. However, in the escape condition, rats took significantly longer to open the restrainer to the cagemates when compared with rats that could not escape. To further explore the motivations underlying these group differences in door-opening latencies, we measured both rats’ behavior. We found that struggling behavior (i.e., distress) in the trapped rat did not affect door-opening, whereas exploratory behavior (i.e., proactive/positive behavior) in both rats contributed to shorter times. Our results highlight that adolescent rats show prosocial behavior even when they can escape without helping and contribute to demonstrate the role of positive emotional states in prosocial behavior.

Callous-unemotional traits: Heritability likely lies at 36–67%; candidate gene studies implicate the serotonin & oxytocin systems in CU traits; no genome-wide loci for CU traits have yet been reported

The genetic underpinnings of callous-unemotional traits: A systematic research review. Ashlee A. Moore et al. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Volume 100, May 2019, Pages 85-97.

•    Callous-unemotional (CU) traits represent the affective features of psychopathy.
•    The heritability of CU traits likely lies between 36–67%.
•    Candidate gene studies implicate the serotonin and oxytocin systems in CU traits.
•    Epigenetic changes to serotonin and oxytocin genes are associated with CU traits.
•    No genome-wide loci for CU traits have yet been reported.

Background: Callous-unemotional (CU) traits represent the affective features of psychopathy used to delineate youth at high risk for externalizing pathology. The genetic etiology CU traits is not currently well-understood.

Methods: The current review surveyed the literature for studies on the genetic underpinnings of CU traits and integrated information from 39 genetic studies.

Results: The results from 24 studies with quantitative data suggest that the heritability for CU traits is likely between 36–67%. A majority of the 16 molecular genetic studies focused on candidate genes in the serotonin and oxytocin systems with results that have not been well replicated. Although two genome-wide association studies have been conducted, no genome-wide significant loci have been discovered.

Discussion: There is some evidence to suggest that the serotonin and oxytocin systems may play a role in CU traits; however, there is currently not enough evidence to implicate specific genetic mechanisms. The authors encourage researchers to continue to apply the most up-to-date and relevant methodology, specifically collaborations and consortiums using genome-wide and polygenic methods.

The cognitive neuroscience of lucid dreaming: EEG studies of lucid dreaming are mostly underpowered and show mixed results

The cognitive neuroscience of lucid dreaming. Benjamin Baird, Sergio A. Mota-Rolim, Martin Dresler. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Volume 100, May 2019, Pages 305-323.

•    EEG studies of lucid dreaming are mostly underpowered and show mixed results.
•    Preliminary neuroimaging data implicates frontoparietal cortices in lucid dreaming.
•    Cholinergic stimulation with mental set shows promise for inducing lucid dreams.
•    We present best-practice procedures to investigate lucid dreaming in the laboratory.

Abstract: Lucid dreaming refers to the phenomenon of becoming aware of the fact that one is dreaming during ongoing sleep. Despite having been physiologically validated for decades, the neurobiology of lucid dreaming is still incompletely characterized. Here we review the neuroscientific literature on lucid dreaming, including electroencephalographic, neuroimaging, brain lesion, pharmacological and brain stimulation studies. Electroencephalographic studies of lucid dreaming are mostly underpowered and show mixed results. Neuroimaging data is scant but preliminary results suggest that prefrontal and parietal regions are involved in lucid dreaming. A focus of research is also to develop methods to induce lucid dreams. Combining training in mental set with cholinergic stimulation has shown promising results, while it remains unclear whether electrical brain stimulation could be used to induce lucid dreams. Finally, we discuss strategies to measure lucid dreaming, including best-practice procedures for the sleep laboratory. Lucid dreaming has clinical and scientific applications, and shows emerging potential as a methodology in the cognitive neuroscience of consciousness. Further research with larger sample sizes and refined methodology is needed.

Greater loneliness is associated with dense, less modular, brain connections; greater sense of life meaning is associated with increased, more modular, connectivity between default & limbic networks

Loneliness and meaning in life are reflected in the intrinsic network architecture of the brain. Mwilambwe-Tshilobo et al. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci., Mar 29 2019, nsz021.

Abstract: Social relationships imbue life with meaning, whereas loneliness diminishes the sense of meaning in life. Yet the extent of interdependence between these psychological constructs remains poorly understood. Loneliness and meaning are associated with different patterns of functional connectivity; however, no studies have investigated this directly. We took a multivariate network approach to examine resting-state fMRI functional connectivity's association with loneliness and meaning in a large cohort of adults (N=942). Loneliness and meaning in life were negatively correlated with one another. In their relationship with individually parcelled whole-brain measures of functional connectivity, a significant and reliable pattern was observed. Greater loneliness was associated with dense, and less modular, connections between default, frontoparietal and externally-directed attention and perceptual networks. A greater sense of life meaning was associated with increased, and more modular, connectivity between default and limbic networks. Low loneliness was associated with more modular brain connectivity, and lower life meaning was associated with higher between-network connectivity. These findings advance our understanding of loneliness and life meaning as distinct, yet interdependent, features of sociality. The results highlight a potential role of the default network as a central hub, providing a putative neural mechanism for shifting between feelings of isolation and purpose.

KEYWORDS: individual differences; partial least squares; personality; resting-state functional connectivity

 Loneliness and life meaning are psychologically-bound constructs closely tied to sociality
(Lambert et al., 2013; Stillman et al., 2009; Twenge, Catanese, & Baumeister, 2003). As a social
species, humans typically seek out social bonds and search for meaning and purpose throughout
the life-course. Indeed, both loneliness and a reduced sense of meaning are closely associated
with declines in functional capacity (Perissinotto et al., 2012), dementia onset (Holwerda et al.,
2014; Boyle et al., 2012), and mortality in later life (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2015; Boyle et al., 2009;
Hill and Turiano, 2014). Despite these psychological and functional relationships, loneliness and
meaning in life (MIL) are considered to be distinct constructs and their degree of
interdependence remains poorly understood. Loneliness reduces the perception of a meaningful
existence (Stillman et al., 2009)—the sense that life has purpose, significance, and coherence
(Martela & Steger, 2016). This association appears to be reciprocal as MIL is strongly associated
with the presence of close relationships (Ebersole, 1998; Klinger, 1977), and previous reports
show that the subjective perception of a meaningful life promotes social engagement and helps
sustain close social bonds (Steptoe & Fancourt, 2019; Stillman & Lambert, 2013). Loneliness
arises due to deficiencies in the quality or quantity of social ties and the absence of social
connectedness, in turn, diminishes MIL, suggesting that this relationship may also be reinforcing
(Baumeister & Leary, 1995). But are these constructs opposite sides of the same coin, or are they
emergent from distinct mechanisms?
Loneliness is characterized by implicit hyper-vigilance for social threats (Cacioppo et al.,
2016). While this can facilitate the identification of viable social partners and prevent rejection,
prolonged loneliness shifts exogenous attentional processes towards perceived social threats
(Bangee et al. 2014; Cacioppo, Balogh, & Cacioppo, 2015). Altered attention to external stimuli
may affect how individuals internalize perceived information and make endogenous judgments
about MIL (Hicks, Schlegel, & King, 2010). Externally-and internally-guided cognitive
processes are mediated by different neural networks and their interactions (Corbetta & Shulman,
2002; Spreng et al., 2010). This raises the possibility that loneliness and MIL are dissociable at
the level of the brain, and subserved by distinct brain networks. Investigating how individual
differences in loneliness and MIL are reflected within these neurocognitive systems may advance
our understanding of their interdependence, and how they interact to guide adaptive and
maladaptive behaviors.
A growing body of neuroimaging studies have provided important insights into the neural
correlates of loneliness, reflecting changes in brain regions associated with processing of social
information. In a task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, lonely
individuals showed increased bilateral activation in the visual cortex in response to unpleasant
social images compared to unpleasant non-social images. Regions implicated in reward
processing (e.g. ventral striatum, amygdala) and perspective-taking (e.g. temporoparietal
junction) showed lower activation when positive social images were presented, suggesting that
lonely individuals may derive less pleasure from rewarding social stimuli (Cacioppo et al.,
2009). Furthermore, other studies have linked loneliness to changes in brain morphology within
the default network (DN), a neural system involved in social and self-related processes
(Andrews‐Hanna, Smallwood, & Spreng, 2014). Loneliness is negatively correlated with grey
matter volume (Kanai et al., 2012) and white matter density (Nakagawa et al., 2015) in the left
posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS). These findings indicate that loneliness may
compromise the structural and functional integrity of multiple brain regions.
Resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) has been an invaluable analytic approach
for investigating the functional interactions between anatomically separate brain regions and
their relationship with behavior (Stevens & Spreng, 2014). Unlike task-based fMRI paradigms,
resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs–fMRI) is task-free and can be used to
simultaneously identify multiple functional networks correlated with behavior. Furthermore,
previous analyses of rs-fMRI data from healthy adult populations have consistently shown strong
congruence between brain networks derived from resting-state and those from task-based studies
(Cole et al., 2014; Stevens & Spreng, 2014; Tavor et al., 2016). In fact, task-based connectivity
estimates have been demonstrated to introduce potentially spurious functional relationships (Fox
& Raichle, 2007).
Prior studies have used rs-fMRI to characterize intrinsic functional brain networks related
to loneliness and MIL. Greater feelings of loneliness have been associated with less integrated
connectivity between attention networks (Tian et al., 2017), as well as increased RSFC within
the cingulo-opercular network, which is implicated in cognitive control (Layden et al., 2017).
These intrinsic changes are consistent with behavioral reports of associations between hyper
vigilance and loneliness (Cacioppo et al., 2016). An investigation of the neural basis of meaning
(Waytz et al., 2015) reported increased connectivity among regions of the medial temporal lobe
subsystem of the DN, implicated in autobiographical remembering and mental simulation (Andrews‐Hanna et al., 2014). While loneliness and MIL are correlated at the level of behavior, the analytical approaches used to characterize the neural representation of each construct have
focused on functional connectivity of select brain regions or networks of interest, thus precluding
inferences on a whole-brain level of integrated networks that can provide insight regarding the
relationship between loneliness and MIL. Here, we investigate individual differences in the
neural representation of loneliness and MIL within a single analytical framework.
The goal of the present study was to assess how whole-brain RSFC is associated with
individual differences in loneliness and MIL. We characterized the intrinsic architecture of brain
connectivity within a large population of healthy young adults using RSFC and individually
parcellated brain regions (Chong et al., 2017), respecting that the localized topology varies
across individuals in the cortex (e.g. Stevens et al., 2015) in order to identify the pattern of
functional connectivity within and between large-scale networks. Using multivariate partial least
squares (PLS), we characterized how patterns of RSFC relate to individual differences in
perceived loneliness and MIL. This approach permits both replication of previous RSFC
patterns, and exploratory examination of behavioral associations outside previously examined
By examining the intrinsic functional connectivity underlying individual differences in
loneliness and MIL, we test two hypotheses: First, loneliness would be associated with greater
connectivity between regions that support attention, including the FPN, dorsal attention (DAN),
and the ventral attention networks (VAN; Corbetta and Shulman, 2002). In contrast, MIL would
be associated with greater connectivity within the DN. Our second hypothesis was that these
patterns of RSFC would be inversely related (i.e. individuals with high levels of loneliness will
share the same pattern of brain connectivity as those with a low sense of MIL and vice-versa). If
confirmed, this would provide support for theoretical models of sociality suggesting that
loneliness and MIL are distinct yet interdependent constructs (Lambert et al., 2013).


Loneliness and meaning in life are important for guiding everyday behavior and
sustaining mental health and well-being over the life course and into advanced age. Yet their
neural signatures remain poorly understood. Here we used a multivariate analytical model to
examine patterns of intrinsic functional connectivity associated with individual variability in
loneliness and MIL in a large sample of healthy adults. There were three primary findings. First,
we identified reliable patterns dissociating whole-brain RSFC related to individual differences in
loneliness and MIL. Second, we observed a core role for default network connectivity in
differentiating loneliness and meaning in life. While default and frontoparietal interactions,
among others, were associated with higher levels of loneliness, this pattern differed for MIL
where connectivity between default and limbic brain regions was associated with a greater sense
of meaning. Finally, greater feelings of loneliness were associated with lower modularity, or
increased integration, between the default and frontoparietal networks and more externally
oriented networks including somatosensory and visual brain regions. In contrast, a stronger sense
of life meaning was associated with greater modularity among more internally-oriented systems
including the limbic and default networks.
Current theoretical models of sociality suggest that loneliness and MIL are discrete yet
interdependent, and potentially reinforcing (Lambert et al., 2013; Stillman et al., 2009; Twenge
et al., 2003). However, only a few studies have investigated the relationship between the loss of
social functioning (i.e. loneliness) and MIL, and these have primarily employed behavioral
methods (Lambert et al., 2013; Stillman & Lambert, 2013). More recently, investigations into the
intrinsic functional architecture of the brain at rest (i.e. in the absence of explicit task demands)
have demonstrated that these durable features of brain organization can enhance our
understanding of enduring features of mental function (Smith et al., 2015; Stevens and Spreng,
2014). Here we leveraged this idea to explore patterns of functional connectivity associated with
individual differences in loneliness and MIL.
 We predicted that the DN, through its role in mediating internally directed cognition,
would be associated with MIL. A greater sense of life meaning has previously been associated
with increased connectivity within the medial temporal lobe subsystem of the DN (Waytz,
Hershfield, & Tamir, 2015). Our data complements this finding by showing increased
connectivity within nodes of the DN associated with higher MIL. Additionally, we observed a
robust, albeit unpredicted, pattern of connectivity within and between networks typically
implicated in internally-directed cognitive processes associated with higher MIL, including the
limbic and default networks, as well cognitive control regions of the FPN. The limbic network is
involved in emotional processing, which involves monitoring, evaluating, and adjusting
emotional reaction to align with current goals. Thus the ability to internally reflect upon one’s
affective state, may be important for a sense of meaning, particularly when experiencing
negative emotions (Kross & Ayduk, 2011). Consistent with this idea, individuals with a clear
sense of purpose in life report lower levels of negative affect and less emotional reactivity to
stressors in daily life (Hill, Sin, Turiano, Burrow, & Almeida, 2018).
The evolutionary theory of loneliness posits that feeling lonely is an aversive biological
signal that motivates the individual to repair or seek new social relationships, and leads to neural
changes that impact attention and processing of social information (Cacioppo & Cacioppo,
2018). While our findings are in accordance with previous studies linking loneliness with altered
RSFC in networks related to attention and executive control (Layden et al., 2017), the results
point to broader changes in brain connectivity across multiple networks. As with MIL, the most
robust associations were observed for between network interactions, and specifically between the
DN and FPN as well as networks implicated in more externally-directed cognition including
attentional (e.g. VAN) or perceptual (e.g. SOM and visual networks) processing. While the
breadth of these associations was not predicted, the VAN is associated with bottom-up or
externally monitoring for behaviorally salient features of the environment (Corbetta and
Shulman, 2002), presumably detected through connections with these perceptual systems. While
we are unable to directly confirm this with the current data, this is consistent with behavioral
accounts of hyper-vigilance for external social threat associated with loneliness. Further, the DN
has been implicated in low mood and ruminative thoughts (DuPre & Spreng, 2018), which may
be elevated by a sense of loneliness. However, several methodological considerations may
account for differences between Layden et al. (2017) and the current findings. While a whole
brain analytic approach was used in both, we examined connectivity strength using individually
parcellated neurocognitive networks—thereby accounting for inter-subject functional
connectivity variability—rather than focusing on standardized network parcellation schemes.
Further, we used multivariate, data-driven analytical methods and a single model approach,
including MIL whereas the earlier study focused on attention networks to test their hypotheses.
Further, PLS methods allow for identification of both within and between network connectivity
strengths in a single analytical model (McIntosh & Mišić, 2013; McIntosh & Lobaugh, 2004).
Here, the between network associations were among the most robust, and most discriminating,
patterns observed for loneliness and life meaning.
Our second hypothesis was based in part on recent findings that individual differences in
both positive and negative behavioral traits have been associated with a unique configuration of
intrinsic functional connectivity (Smith et al., 2015). Specifically, increased connectivity within
regions encompassing the DN was linked to positive behavioral traits such as life satisfaction,
and inversely related to negative behavioral traits such as perceived stress (Smith et al., 2015).
Similarly, by including both loneliness and MIL in a single model, here we were able to identify
a single pattern of functional connectivity implicating the DN that was associated with these
positive and negative constructs. Connectivity within the DN, and its connections to the limbic
network, were associated with a higher sense of life meaning and lower feelings of loneliness. In
contrast, DN connectivity to externally-oriented attentional systems and cognitive control
networks was associated with a higher sense of loneliness, and lower life meaning.
We further examined the features of whole-brain RSFC organization related to loneliness
and MIL by interrogating the modular intrinsic network architecture. Increased modularity has
been associated with more efficient processing operations and is generally considered to be a
marker of brain health (Bullmore and Sporns, 2009; Wig et al., 2017). The intrinsic network
organization of brain networks associated with loneliness was less modular as the DN and FPN
were less differentiated from externally-directed attention and perceptual networks. As suggested
above, this pattern of network dedifferentiation may reflect increased vigilance for social threat.
Consistent with this idea, less modular brain network architecture has been associated with
negative affect including depression, as well as normal and pathological aging (Andrews-Hanna
et al., 2014).
To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate whole-brain patterns of RSFC
associated with loneliness and MIL. Both MIL and loneliness are predictors of successful aging
and an important future direction would be to examine how these patterns of intrinsic brain
networks change in normal and pathological aging. Future examinations will also be necessary to
explore how the connectivity patterns identified in the present study are dynamically shaped in
response to task demands that require judgments of belonging and/or existential meaning.
Further, MIL is distinct from meaning-seeking and meaning maintenance, and these differences
will need to be explored with respect to loneliness and patterns of RSFC. This question is
particularly relevant in light of past work demonstrating a distinction between the presence of
meaning and the search for meaning (Heine, Proulx, & Vohs, 2006; Steger, 2012), and may have
important implications for the interpretation of our results for loneliness given that the lack of
belonging could both motivate or discourage an individual’s search for meaning.
By investigating associations between brain function, loneliness and MIL within a
common analytical framework, we were able to identify a pattern of intrinsic functional
connectivity that differentiated brain networks associated with higher MIL and lower loneliness
from those associated with lower MIL and higher loneliness. Critically, between network
interactions, particularly those involving the DN, were among the most robust and discriminating
intrinsic network markers of loneliness and MIL. Behaviorally, these findings advance our
understanding of these two constructs as distinct, yet interdependent, features of sociality
(Lambert et al., 2013; Stillman et al., 2009; Stillman & Lambert, 2013). While speculative, the
data also implicate the DN as a candidate network hub, suggesting that these brain regions may
provide a neural conduit for shifting between feelings of isolation and purpose. If confirmed,
these findings may inform future research to design behavioral and neural intervention strategies
targeted at disrupting the reinforcing cycle of loneliness and life meaning.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Disclosing racial preferences in sexual attraction (whether preference for some race, or disinterest in others) is considered racist even by people who overtly claim that holding such preference is not racism

The “preference” paradox: Disclosing racial preferences in attraction is considered racist even by people who overtly claim it is not. Michael Thai, Matthew J. Stainer, Fiona Kate Barlow. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 83, July 2019, Pages 70-77.

•    It is considered more racist to have racial preference in attraction than not.
•    Effect emerges even for people who claim it is not racist to have preferences.
•    Effect emerges if preferences are communicated disinterest in certain races.
•    Effect emerges if preferences are communicated as a preference for a certain race.
•    Effect emerges whether preferences are communicated as absolute or soft.

Abstract: There is contention about whether having racial preferences in the domain of sexual attraction constitutes racism, or simply reflects benign partiality. Using a person perception paradigm, we investigated gay men's ratings of targets who disclosed racial preferences in a mock online dating profile. Across three experiments, we found that participants generally rated the target as more racist, less attractive, less dateable, and were less personally willing to have relations with him if he disclosed racial preferences than if he did not. Even participants who believed that having racial preferences is not racist consistently rated a target disclosing racial preferences as more racist, largely less dateable, and were less personally willing to have relations with him. For these participants, however, racial preference disclosure had no reliable effect on how physically attractive they found the target. Findings suggest that disclosing racial preferences in the domain of attraction is interpreted as reflecting racism, even by those who ostensibly believe that people can have non-racist racial preferences.

CEOs imbue their organizations with the ability to feel & ability to suffer, which makes organizational punishments more satisfying, & apologies more effective

CEOs imbue organizations with feelings, increasing punishment satisfaction and apology effectiveness. Simone Tang. KurtGray. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 79, November 2018, Pages 115-125.

Abstract: Organizations are easy to blame for wrongdoing because they seem capable of intention and planning (i.e., they possess perceived agency). However, punishing organizations for wrongdoing is often unsatisfying, perhaps because organizations seem incapable of feeling pain (i.e., they lack perceived experience). Without the ability to suffer, corporations and organizations cannot slake people's thirst for retribution, even with large fines and other penalties. CEOs may provide a potential solution to this “organization experience deficiency.” As feeling humans who embody the organizations they lead, CEOs provide a possible source of suffering and therefore organizational redemption. Across five experiments and one pre-registered experiment, we found that CEOs imbue their organizations with the ability to feel (Experiments 1–4b) and ability to suffer (Experiments 2a, 2b, and 3), which makes organizational punishments more satisfying (Experiments 2a, 2b, and 3), and apologies more effective (Experiments 4a and 4b). Implications for justice and mind perception in organizations are discussed.

1. Introduction
In 2014, car manufacturer Toyota was fined $1.2 billion for knowingly selling cars with defective accelerators. Despite the size of the fine—the largest at the time—people seemed dissatisfied and de-manded tougher sanctions (Douglas & Fletcher, 2014). Conversely,when the pharmaceutical company Valeant was fined the equivalent of$143.1 million for price gouging desperate patients—about 10% of the Toyota fine—people appeared more satisfied (Rapoport & Lublin,2016). Why the differences in reaction? Although reactions to any legal case are multiply determined (Demleitner, Berman, Miller, & Wright,2015; Erez & Rogers, 1999;Myers & Greene, 2004), Valeant's punishment might have been more satisfying because its CEO was fired, providing a tangible source of suffering. When wrongdoing occurs, people thirst for retribution, demanding an eye for an eye (Darley, 2009). Given that most immoral deeds end up harming a victim (even if only in perception; Haslam, 2016;Schein,Goranson, & Gray, 2015), people often want the perpetrator of misdeeds to suffer in kind. As most individuals possess the capacity forpain, this thirst for suffering is easily slaked when wrongdoers are punished, whether through prison time, social censure, or personal financial loss.

1.1. Organizations are deficient in experience
In contrast to individuals, organized group agents like corporations seem to lack the ability to suffer. Research in mind perception reveals that while organizations are seen as equally capable of agency (e.g.,planning and acting) compared to individuals, they are seen as muchless capable of experience (e.g., feeling and sensing, Knobe & Prinz,2008; Rai & Diermeier, 2015). This mind perception profile means that organizations are seen as moral agents (morally capable of perpetrating and being responsible for wrongdoing), but not moral experiencers (or“moral patients,”deserving of moral rights;Gray & Wegner, 2009;Opotow, 1990). In other words, companies are seen as capable of being villains perpetrating harm, but not as victims experiencing harm (Gray&Wegner, 2011;Rai & Diermeier, 2015). Consistent with this idea, society is often willing to paint corporations as evil masterminds ratherthan as deserving of compassion (Litowitz, 2003). This lack of perceived experience may be especially problematic fororganizations after they perpetrate harm because people are retributivists (Darley, 2009), and punishments are most satisfying whenthey cause the wrongdoer clear suffering (e.g.,Fitness & Peterson,2008).  Of  course,  not  all  transgressions  result  in  punishment—sometimes they are addressed through apologies to preemptpunishment (Ohbuchi, Kameda, & Agarie, 1989). Even here, however,successful apologies require sincere expressions of remorse and concern (Davis & Gold, 2011; Fehr & Gelfand, 2010). As organizations seem to lack the capacity to feel remorse and suffer, their apologies may beperceived as less sincere or heartfelt. Despite these apparent deficits ofmind, there may be one way to overcome them: through their CEO.

1.2. The benefits of a CEO
Although an organization may be represented by its logo, aspokesperson, or even its iconic headquarters, the CEO is often seen asthe human embodiment of the entire organization (Forrest, 2011;Woods, 2011; YaleInsights, 2014), such as Bill Gates for Microsoft andMark Zuckerberg for Facebook. CEOs not only provide a human face foran often opaque organizational structure, but may also provide humanfeelings and emotions. Although organizations are generally seen to lackfeelings, CEOs—as human beings—possess both agency and experience,and may be able to confer (at least perceptually) feeling to the orga-nizations they personify.
More specifically, after an organization commits a moral transgression, people may use the CEO's ability to feel as a proxy for theorganization's perceived ability to feel. Although experience is a rela-tively broad construct (Gray, Gray, & Wegner, 2007), we suggest onespecific capacity within experience will be of special importance—thecapacity to suffer. Feeling pain is essential to retribution (Darley, 2009),and so we suggest that the benefits of CEO-conferred-experience willhinge upon increased perceptions of suffering in organizations. Of course, there may be other reasons beyond perceived experience as towhy punishments are more satisfying and apologies are more effectivewhen CEOs are emphasized. People often hold leaders responsible fororganizational transgressions (Zemba, Young, & Morris, 2006),firmperformance (Crossland & Chen, 2013), and new initiatives (Menon,Sim, Fu, Chiu, & Hong, 2010), but we suggest that another possible,though overlooked, reason for increased punishment satisfaction is the CEO's ability to imbue the organization with perceived experience,especially the ability to suffer.
Here we explore whether CEOs are not only Chief ExecutiveOfficers, but also Chief Experiencing Officers, imbuing their organizations with the capacity to feel and providing their organizations po-tential benefits after organizational malfeasance.1.3. The current researchSix experiments investigate whether CEOs confer experience to organizations. We first test whether an organization represented by its CEO is ascribed relatively more experience than one that is not (Experiment 1). We then examine whether such imbued experi-ence—especially the ability to suffer—makespunishments more satisfying (Experiments 2a, 2b, and 3) and apologies more effective(Experiments 4a and 4b). In our experiments, we report all measures, manipulations, and exclusions. All data were analyzed after all datacollection was complete, except for preregistered Experiment 2 (be-cause of an issue by the Qualtrics platform that led some participants inthe initial sample to experience error messages during the study), andExperiment 4b (because the effect size was smaller than expected, leaving us with insufficient power from our initial sample).

8. General discussion
Across six experiments and one preregistered replication, we found that an organization's CEO can imbue it with experience (Experiments 1-4b), which makes punishments more satisfying (Experiments 2a, 2b, and 3) and apologies more effective (Experiments 4a and 4b). The more capable the CEO is seen of experience, the more effectively they imbue their organization with experience (Experiment 3). Experiment 3 also revealed that, despite thegeneral importance ofimbued experience, the perceived ability to suffer is especially important in generating positive organizational outcomes—likely because of the strong motivation for just deserts (Carlsmith, Darley, & Robinson, 2002). These findings are important because they highlight a way for organizations to regain the approval of consumers after wrongdoing. Trust in big businesses is at an all-time low—only 6% of Americans report having a “great deal” of confidence in them (Gallup, 2016)—and such trust is essential for a functioning society (Putnam, 2000; Sullivan & Transue, 1999). Our set of studies suggests one path towards rebuilding trust—the apparent suffering or remorse of CEOs.

8.1. Caveats
We note that the role of CEOs is not limited to imbuing experience, as CEOs are generally viewed as the source of an organization's behaviors (Crossland & Chen, 2013; Menon et al., 2010; Zemba et al., 2006). We further note that the presence or absence of an experiential CEO is not the only—or perhaps even most important—determinant of reactions to corporate malfeasance. Researchers have examined the factors that affect attributions of responsibility and blame across crises, including accidents and malfeasance. Consistent with current models of moral judgment (Schein & Gray, 2018), people assign less blame to harmful agents when the harm is seen as unintentional (Alicke, 2000), when they lack clear victims (Alicke & Davis, 1989), when the causation of harm is unclear (Paharia, Kassam, Greene, & Bazerman, 2009), and when they involve gradual degradation rather than abrupt drops in ethical conduct (Fincham & Shultz, 1981; Gino & Bazerman, 2009). We also acknowledge that the results may be different if people are the victims of the wrongdoing, rather than when making third-party judgments (as examined here). However, we suggest that the effects could be even stronger, as wrongdoing is more relevant for and more impactful on victims compared to observers, and related past research on motivated cognition suggests that motivated attitudes and behaviors are stronger when the event is increasingly relevant to the self (Kay, Jimenez, & Jost, 2002; Laurin, Shepherd, & Kay, 2010).

8.2. Implications
More broadly, our experiments replicate past work on mind perception revealing that people ascribe more experience to humans than to organizations (Rai & Diermeier, 2015). However, they also provide an important qualification: when an organization is represented by its CEO, the organization's experience is increased. This effect is not only practically important for organizations seeking to manage their impressions, but also has theoretical implications for how we understand groups in general and organizations in particular. Groups are often seen as the combined collection of their individual members, but this work highlights how they are also identified via their leader, who lends his or her characteristics to the collective. Just as the King or Queen of England is the human symbol of the English Commonwealth—and has the capacity to redirect resentment away from the government to him or herself (Ayling, 1972)—the CEO is the human incarnation of the organization. This helps us understand why some organizations, like Apple (prominently represented by former Steve Jobs), appear to be more capable of experience than other organizations, like Chevron (whose CEO is not as prominent)—and why (among other reasons) organizations do not want a CEO who seems like an unfeeling psychopath. A feeling CEO translates to a feeling organization, as Experiment 3 demonstrates. However, there could be a dark side to the satisfaction that people feel from the CEO's suffering. Although punishing an organization through its CEO may be more satisfying, it is often less effective and more costly than implementing systemic change, such as changes to legal policies (Cohen, 2015). That is, people's satisfaction from retribution may come at the expense of more important change, such as changing the underlying system to prevent future wrongdoing (Tufekci, 2018). This may explain why the government, the news media, and the public relish in seeing CEOs lambasted in court (e.g., The New York Times Editorial Board, 2016) and are often unwilling to let corporations off the hook until senior executives leave in disgrace (Thompson & Liakos, 2015). Given people's desire to satisfy short-term desires over long-term goals (e.g., Baumeister, 2002) and that people punish for retributive reasons (Carlsmith et al., 2002), they may end up extracting suffering from a series of CEOs at the expense of dedicating the limited amount of resources to fixing the underlying problem. An important implication of our findings for scholars and practitioners is the significance of perceiving minds in organizations when it comes to justice and punishment. People care not just about ways to rectify wrongdoing andpunish, butalsoabout whether theycan makea mind suffer in the process—and in organizations, this is often the mind of the CEO. An interesting twist, as we have shown, is that if the CEO is perceived as incapable of feeling or experience, they are less able to confer the benefits of punishment satisfaction (and presumably apology effectiveness). The inability of both the CEO and organization to experience may even lead to less punishment satisfaction and apology effectiveness than only an organization that does not experience.
Finally, although speculative, this research hints at a new understanding of extreme pay packages of CEOs. CEOs receive substantially more compensation than other employees, often making millions more than the next closest executive. Explanations for this pay gap include their background (Carpenter, Sanders, & Gregersen, 2001), their talent (Gabaix&Landier,2006), their managerial skills (Combs&Skill,2003), their willingness to weather business volatility (Dow & Raposo, 2005), andtheirpower to influence compensation packages (Bebchuk, Fried,& Walker, 2002), but our results suggest that such a disparity can also inadvertently serve a purposeful function. After wrongdoing, CEOs who make much more money have further to fall, and so sanctions and terminations seem to cause them more suffering. Being high above the rest of the company also draws more attention to them, allowing them to act as a lightning rod to protect the rest of the company. CEOs may therefore be understood not only as powerful leaders, but also as sacrificial lambs, whose disgrace and termination after wrongdoing allows the broader organization to achieve redemption.

Survey: All hospital pharmacists suffered drug shortages in the preceding year & 69.2% had more than 50 shortages; 92.4% had about 1 month from notice to shortage

Prevalence and Severity of Rationing During Drug Shortages: A National Survey of Health System Pharmacists. Andrew Hantel et al. JAMA Intern Med. March 25, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.8251

Abstract: Hospital medication shortages in the United States are associated with decreased quality and/or quantity of life.1,2 In severe cases, shortages require clinicians to decide which patients receive needed medications and which do not (ie, rationing drugs between patients).3 Previous studies have proposed ethical allocation frameworks and assessed the associations of specific shortages.2,4,5 We conducted a national survey of hospital pharmacy managers to investigate current drug allocation and rationing practices of US hospitals during shortages.

The study’s 719 respondents (response rate, 65.0%,based on unique listserv activity during the time of survey availability) comprised 5.7% of total PPM membership. The question completion rate was 95.4%. Respondents were demographically similar to the overall American Society of Health-System Pharmacists PPM membership. The median age was 44 years (interquartile range, 35-57 years), with 311 (43.2%) self-reporting as women and 381 (53.0%) as men; the median years in practice was 10 (interquartile range, 10-32 years). A total of 453 (63.0%) reported practicing in community hospitals,whereas 143 (19.9%) and 123 (17.1%) reported practicing in academic or academically affiliated hospitals, respectively. Respondents were from hospitals with fewer than 100 (109 [15.2%]), 100 to 199 (139 [19.3%]), 200 to 299 (111 [15.4%]), 300 to 399 (115 [15.9%]), or more than 400 beds (245 [34.0%]). All respondents reported experiencing drug shortages in the preceding year and 498 respondents (69.2%) reported more than 50 shortages. Most respondents (664 [92.4%]) reportedan average of less than 1 month from notification to active shortage, 250 (34.9%) described having no administrative mechanism to respond to shortages, 96 (13.3%) reported a standing committee that included physicians, and 20 (2.8%)included an ethicist. The Table describes the frequency of medication shortages and the strategies used to mitigate and manage them. Notably, medication hoarding was reported by 584 respondents (81.3%). More than one-third of respondents (247 [34.4%]) reportedan episode of rationing within the past year. Rationing occurred more frequently at academic hospitals (47.7% vs 25.5%;P= .01) and academically affiliated hospitals (45.4% vs 25.5%;P=.02) compared with community hospitals and in hospitals with more than 300 beds compared with those with fewer beds (46.1% vs19.7%;P< .01). During rationing, 128 respondents (51.8%) reported that the treating team alone decided on allocation meth-ods, whereas 119(48.2%) used committees, 12 (4.9%) of which included an ethicist. Only 89 patients(36.0%) were informed that their care included rationing.

Pharmacy practice managers reported frequent medication shortages with variation in allocation and rationing methods during shortages. Many respondents described little forewarning of upcoming shortages and a lack of administrative mechanisms with which to guide medication conser-vation, and although discouraged, hoarding was widespread.3,4 Rationing was prevalent, particularly in large hospitals and academic or academically affiliated hospitals. Most respondents noted that rationing decisions were generally made by the care team without the involvement of hospital committees or ethicists. Disclosing rationing to patients was not common. This survey of PPMs suggests that more systematic approaches areneeded to address the common problem of drug shortages and consequent drug rationing. Progress in this area would be furthered by research to better understand patient and physician preferences for disclosure and the association of different management strategies with the outcomes of high-risk groups.

Hadza Hunter-gatherers Disagree on Perceptions of Moral Character

Smith, Kristopher M., and Coren L. Apicella. 2019. “Hadza Hunter-gatherers Disagree on Perceptions of Moral Character.” PsyArXiv. March 29. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: To the extent that moral character is grounded in stable and observable truths, there should exist agreement between people in their judgements of others’ character. In Western populations, this agreement is found. We examine whether this is universal in Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania. Ninety-four judges ranked their campmates on global character and relevant character traits for a total of 824 observations. Judges disagreed on rankings of global character, generosity, and honesty, but agreed more on hard work and hunting ability. Individual rankings on specific traits predicted character evaluations. There was agreement between judges on the extent to which generosity and hard work related to character. These findings suggest that Hadza have shared beliefs about what traits constitute character, but disagree on which of their campmates exhibit these traits. We discuss these findings in light of other research suggesting that stable moral dispositions may not be universal.

Evaluation of moral character is an important component of person perception (Goodwin,
2015; Goodwin, Piazza, & Rozin, 2014). When learning about a new person, we seek
information about whether they are trustworthy (Brambilla, Rusconi, Sacchi, & Cherubini,
2011). When identifying features and traits most relevant to identity, people consider morality to
be an essential component (Strohminger & Nichols, 2014). And when considering what
attributes a partner should have in different types of relationships, morally relevant features, such
as trustworthiness, are most important (Cottrell, Neuberg, & Li, 2007). This makes sense because
a person’s character is used to infer their intentions toward us and whether they would help or
hinder our goals (Landy, Piazza, & Goodwin, 2016). Indeed, people use information about moral
character to decide who to interact and cooperate with (Everett, Faber, Savulescu, & Crockett,
2018; Martin & Cushman, 2015; van der Lee, Ellemers, Scheepers, & Rutjens, 2017).
Despite the importance of moral character in person perception, some have argued that
character does not exist and that people do not have stable moral dispositions  (Doris, 2002;
Harman, 2003). Social psychologists and philosophers have used classic findings from social
psychology, such as the bystander effect (Darley & Latané, 1968; Latané & Darley, 1968) or the
good Samaritan experiment (Darley & Batson, 1973), to argue against the existence of moral
character and that moral behavior is determined wholly by the situation (Doris, 2002; Harman,
2003). One way to determine whether people behave similarly across situations is to examine
agreement between independent observers. Because different observers are likely to interact with
the target in different situations, if they agree in their evaluations, it then suggests there is a
stable disposition that is being observed (Kenrick & Funder, 1988). So, if independent observers
have similar perceptions of targets’ moral character, then it provides some evidence for the
existence of moral character.
People generally agree on who does, and does not, have moral character. Self-report and
informant ratings of morally-relevant traits, such as honesty or guilt-proneness, moderately
correlate (Cohen, Panter, Turan, Morse, & Kim, 2013). Independent observers also agree on
global evaluations of moral character, as well as specific moral traits and trait profiles. (Helzer et
al., 2014). And people agree on morally relevant traits displayed by respected cultural figures,
even across the US political divide (Frimer, Biesanz, Walker, & MacKinlay, 2013). Again, this
agreement is used as evidence that moral character exists.
Like much of behavioral and social science research, samples in studies of moral
psychology have largely been drawn from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and
Democratic—or WEIRD—societies (Ellemers, van der Toorn, Paunov, & van Leeuwen, 2019;
Henrich, Heine, & Norenzayan, 2010). Despite this, the importance of moral character in identity
and person perception is theorized to be universal (Strohminger, Knobe, & Newman, 2017).
Most often, when moral psychology is examined in other cultures, the emphasis is on the content
of moral norms and the shared or unique prescriptions and prohibitions across cultures (Curry,
Mullins, & Whitehouse, 2019; Haidt, Koller, & Dias, 1993; Purzycki et al., 2018). Yet, when
research has looked at processes in moral judgments, important differences have been found. For
example, whether a wrong is done intentionally is an important distinction in moral judgments
among Western populations, presumably because it reveals information about moral character
(Landy & Uhlmann, 2018). However, unintentional violations are judged as wrong as intentional
violations in some cultures, including the Hadza and South Pacific islanders (Barrett et al., 2016;
McNamara, Willard, Norenzayan, & Henrich, 2019). To our knowledge, no research has been
conducted on perceptions of moral character in small-scale societies.
There are reasons to suspect important differences in moral character and its perception
in small-scale societies. First, there is some evidence for less personality variation in non
WEIRD societies. For example, personality traits in the Tsimané forager-horticulturalists of
Bolivia do not cluster into five distinct factors, but rather two, and there is less variation within
those factors compared to Western samples (Gurven, von Rueden, Massenkoff, Kaplan, & Vie,
2013). And in fact, across 55 nations, populations with fewer economic opportunities to
specialize have less variation in personality traits (Lukaszewski, Gurven, von Rueden, &
Schmitt, 2017). To the extent that there is a relationship between personality traits and moral
character (Thalmayer, Saucier, Srivastava, Flournoy, & Costello, 2019), we might then similarly
expect less variation in morally-relevant character traits. Second, there is no evidence for
generous dispositions in small-scale societies. In longitudinal data among the Hadza,
contributions to a public good game were not predicted by previous contributions, but rather the
contributions of an individual’s campmates (Smith, Larroucau, Mabulla, & Apicella, 2018).
Here, strong, local norms governing generosity may be reducing individual variation in morally
relevant behavior leading to a lack of agreement on perceptions of moral character.
In the current study, we examine perceptions of moral character among the Hadza of
Tanzania, one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer groups in the world. The Hadza are an ideal
population because they live in small groups of known individuals where behavior is observable,
and because of their harsh environment, knowing who is moral would be seemingly important.
We examine agreement on these perceptions in two ways. First, do Hadza agree on who has
moral character? And second, do Hadza agree on what traits contribute to global moral
character? To answer these questions, we ask the Hadza to rank their campmates on moral
character, as well as specific traits of hard work, generosity, and honesty. We examine the
consensus within each camp on rank orderings for each trait to answer the first question. We
examine the relationship between the specific traits and global character rankings and the
variation between Hadza on the importance of the specific traits in determining global character
to answer the second question.


 In WEIRD societies, people evaluate the moral character of others and use those
perceptions to decide with whom to interact. Underscoring the importance of character in these
populations, independent observers agree on how moral others are (Helzer et al., 2014). But is
this universal? To answer this, we asked if Hadza hunter-gatherers agree on who is moral and
what traits make someone moral. The Hadza disagree on which of their campmates have a good
heart, are generous, and are honest, and agree more on which campmates are hard working
(effort) and produce the most food (hunting ability). At the level of the population, hard work,
generosity, and honesty contribute to global character; however, there is variation between
Hadza judges on how much honesty contributes to global character, though judges agree more on
how much hard work and generosity contribute to character. Overall, these results suggest that
Hadza use some of the same criteria—hard work and generosity—for evaluating moral character,
but disagree on who displays those traits, leading to disagreement on global character
 Agreement between independent observers on ratings about a trait is taken as evidence
for that trait existing because raters are likely observing the same behaviors despite being in
different situations (Kenrick & Funder, 1988). The disagreement between Hadza judges on
character traits suggests that Hadza do not have moral dispositions. However, disagreement does
not definitively rule out the existence of moral character. For example, the Hadza may have been
unwilling to make assessments about their campmates’ character, though notably we do see
agreement on hunting ability, which is highly valued in the Hadza. Or there could be
disagreement because there are not many opportunities to display moral behavior; however, it
should be easy to observe moral behavior because they live together in small groups and depend
on each other for survival.
 One alternative interpretation of the data is that the Hadza can agree on moral character,
and in fact they do have moral dispositions, but that our measure is unreliable and cannot detect
agreement. A good measure measuring a phenomenon that does not exist and a bad measure
measuring a phenomenon that does exist will produce the same result: noise. However, we argue
there are two reasons to suspect that our measure would be reliable enough to detect agreement
on moral character if it existed. First, we were able to detect moderate relationships between the
specific character traits and moral character, indicating reliability was not so low as to be unable
to detect any effects. Second, we did find moderate agreement on hard work and hunting ability.
And in fact, given what we know about the noisy relationship between hunting returns and
hunting reputation (Stibbard-Hawkes et al., 2018), the fact that we were able to detect agreement
suggests low reliability can not fully explain the disagreement in perceptions of moral character. 
 It may seem that hunting ability would be easily observable, but in the anthropological
literature, this is notoriously difficult to measure, and because of this hunting reputation is
criticized as a measure of hunting success (Hill & Kintigh, 2009). First, hunting ability is rarely
directly observed, as most hunting happens alone. And second, there is high variance in hunting
returns, in which men return to camp with nothing on most days, but occasionally (about 3% of
days) bring in large game (Hawkes, O’Connell, & Blurton-Jones, 1991). In fact, for
anthropologists to reliably estimate hunting ability using hunting returns, they need 200 to 600
days of observations (Hill & Kintigh, 2009). Despite this, in our study and others (Stibbard
Hawkes et al., 2018), the Hadza are able to agree on who the best hunters are, and hunting
reputation does relate to proxies of actual hunting ability, such as strength, accuracy, and
ecological knowledge (Apicella, 2014; Stibbard-Hawkes et al., 2018). This suggests that if there
are moral dispositions among the Hadza, the signal is much weaker than that of hunting ability,
which is itself a noisy signal (Stibbard-Hawkes, 2019). And in fact, if it is this hard to detect
moral dispositions, it then raises the question of whether the Hadza can reliably determine
character enough to provide useful social information.
 Data measuring morally-relevant behavior, such as generosity, further suggest a lack of
moral dispositions in the Hadza and other non-WEIRD populations. In a longitudinal study, a
Hadza’s previous generosity in an economic game did not predict their subsequent contributions,
and instead the only significant predictor was how much his or her campmates contribute (Smith
et al., 2018). And in a small study (n = 12) of the Tsimané of Bolivia, generosity in a dictator
game in one year did not predict generosity in a later year (Gurven, 2014).  
 These results further support recent research finding that character and moral reputation
do not play a role in Hadza campmate preferences. When asked who they prefer to live with,
Hadza do not choose the most generous people, whether generosity is measured using an
economic game (Apicella, Marlowe, Fowler, & Christakis, 2012) or via reputation (Smith &
Apicella, 2019). Rather, Hadza prefer to live with better hunters (Smith & Apicella, 2019; Wood,
2006). If moral behavior changes across time and situations as our results here suggest, then
choosing campmates based on their current behavior is useless. Instead, traits related to
productivity, such as being a hard worker or a good hunter, may become more important in
campmate preferences (Barclay, 2016); if everyone is expected to share because of strong norms,
such as in the Hadza, then choosing productive campmates is more important. And in fact, a
preference for productive partners may influence friendships in Western societies. People prefer
partners in economic games and are more generous to partners who are perceived to be more
productive, even though it is irrelevant to the game (Eisenbruch, Grillot, Maestripieri, & Roney,
2016; Eisenbruch & Roney, 2017). The effect of a productivity preference in various
relationships may be a fruitful area for future research. 
 Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, the situationist paradigm in social
psychology casted doubt on the existence of moral character. However, more recent research in
moral psychology has argued that moral character does in fact exist (Fleeson, Furr,
Jayawickreme, Meindl, & Helzer, 2014). In Western societies, people agree on who is moral
(Helzer et al., 2014), and perceptions of moral character play an important role in social
cognition (Goodwin, 2015; Landy & Uhlmann, 2018). Our results here question the universality
of moral character and its centrality in social life, and highlights the importance of cross-cultural
research using underrepresented samples. By conducting research with populations in a variety
of socio-ecologies, we can better understand the variation in our moral psychology.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Religious people believe that engaging in religious behaviors and believing in God boosts one’s morality

Ward, S. J., & King, L. A. (2019). Moral stereotypes, moral self-image, and religiosity. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, Mar 2019.

Abstract: The precise mechanisms that account for the positive association between religion and self-reports of morality are uncertain. Three studies examined whether the association between religiosity and moral self-image was explained by perceptions of the morality of one’s religious ingroup, beliefs that one needs religion to be moral, and impression management. In Study 1 (N = 284), perceptions of the morality one’s religious ingroup, impression management, the perceived desirability of moral traits, and self-reported prosocial behaviors all independently partially explained the religiosity-moral self-image link. Study 2 (N = 593) demonstrated that religious people believe that engaging in religious behaviors and believing in God boosts one’s morality. Study 3 (N = 790) demonstrated that the association between religiosity and moral self-image was partially explained by impression management and perceptions of the morality of one’s religious ingroup. These studies demonstrated a consistent association between religiosity and moral self-image, which was explained by both the perceived morality of one’s religious ingroup and impression management.

Authors propose a new cooperation-based theory of morality; use game theory to identify seven types of cooperation, and seven types of morality; develop and validate a new self-report measure of moral values: Morality-as-cooperation

Mapping morality with a compass: Testing the theory of ‘morality-as-cooperation’ with a new questionnaire. Oliver Scott Curry, Matthew Jones Chesters, Caspar J.Van Lissa. Journal of Research in Personality, Volume 78, February 2019, Pages 106-124.

•    Proposes a new cooperation-based theory of morality.
•    Uses game theory to identify seven types of cooperation, and seven types of morality.
•    Develops and validates a new self-report measure of moral values.

Abstract: Morality-as-Cooperation (MAC) is the theory that morality is a collection of biological and cultural solutions to the problems of cooperation recurrent in human social life. MAC uses game theory to identify distinct types of cooperation, and predicts that each will be considered morally relevant, and each will give rise to a distinct moral domain. Here we test MAC's predictions by developing a new self-report measure of morality, the Morality-as-Cooperation Questionnaire (MAC-Q), and comparing its psychometric properties to those of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (MFQ). Over four studies, the results support the MAC-Q's seven-factor model of morality, but not the MFQ's five-factor model. Thus MAC emerges as the best available compass with which to explore the moral landscape.

Check also this meta-analysis of effects of helping on the happiness of the helper: The overall effect of kindness on well-being is small-to-medium:
Happy to help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of performing acts of kindness on the well-being of the actor. Oliver Scott Curry et al. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology,

1. Introduction

What is morality? What explains its content and structure? And how is it best measured? In recent years, the study of morality has become the focus of a thriving interdisciplinary endeavour, encompassing research not only in psychology, but also in evolutionary theory, genetics, biology, animal behaviour, anthropology, neuroscience and economics (Haidt, 2007, Shackelford and Hansen, 2016, Sinnott-Armstrong, 2007). A common view in this body of work is that the function of morality is to promote cooperation (Curry, 2016, Greene, 2015:40; Haidt & Kesebir, 2010:800; Rai & Fiske, 2011:59; Sterelny & Fraser, 2016:1; Tomasello & Vaish, 2013:231).1
However, previous cooperative accounts of morality have not made full use of the mathematical analysis of cooperation – the theory of nonzerosum games – to provide a systematic taxonomy of cooperation. They have instead tended to focus on a relatively narrow range of cooperative behaviours (typically kin altruism and reciprocal altruism), and omitted others (for example, coordination and conflict resolution) (Table 4 in Curry, 2016). Thus, previous accounts have attempted to explain morality from an unnecessarily restricted base, and missed the opportunity to furnish a broader, more general theory of morality.
The present paper has two goals. First, we use nonzerosum game theory to provide the rigorous, systematic foundation that the cooperative approach to morality has previously lacked. We show how this rich, principled explanatory framework – which we call ‘Morality-as-Cooperation’ (MAC; Curry, 2016, Curry et al., 2019) – incorporates more types of cooperation, and thus explains more types of morality, than previous approaches. The current version of the theory incorporates seven well-established types of cooperation: (1) the allocation of resources to kin (Hamilton, 1963); (2) coordination to mutual advantage (Lewis, 1969); (3) social exchange (Trivers, 1971); and conflict resolution through contests featuring displays of (4) hawkish and (5) dove-ish traits (Maynard Smith & Price, 1973); (6) division (Skyrms, 1996); and (7) possession (Gintis, 2007).
Second, we test MAC’s prediction that each of these types of cooperation will be considered morally relevant, and each will give rise to a distinct moral domain, by developing a new self-report measure of moral values – with facets dedicated to (1) family values, (2) group loyalty, (3) reciprocity, (4) bravery, (5) respect, (6) fairness and (7) property rights – and examine its psychometric properties.

2. How cooperation explains morality

The theory of Morality-as-Cooperation (MAC) argues that morality consists of a collection of biological and cultural solutions to the problems of cooperation recurrent in human social life (Curry, 2016). Below we review the general argument, before looking at how specific types of cooperation explain corresponding types of morality.
Life begins when molecules start making copies of themselves. These ‘replicators’ are ‘selfish’ in the technical sense that they promote their own replication (Dawkins, 1976/2006). They can promote their replication at the expense of other replicators. These competitive interactions have a winner and a loser; one’s gain is another’s loss; they are zerosum games (Maynard Smith, 1982, Von Neumann and Morgenstern, 1944). But replicators can also replicate in concert with other replicators (Dawkins, 1998). These cooperative interactions can have two winners; they are win-win situations; they are nonzerosum games. Natural selection can favour genes for cooperation – that is, genes for evolutionarily-stable phenotypic strategies designed to achieve superior equilibria in nonzerosum interactions – and has done throughout the history of life. Natural selection for genes that employ cooperative strategies has driven several ‘major transitions’ in the evolution of life on Earth, including the formation of cells, chromosomes and multicellular organisms (Maynard Smith & Szathmáry, 1995). Natural selection has also favoured genes for cooperation between individuals, in a wide variety of species (Dugatkin, 1997), including humans. Humans descend from a long line of social primates; they have spent 50 million years living in social groups (Shultz, Opie, & Atkinson, 2011), and two million years making a living as intensely collaborative hunter-gatherers (Tooby & DeVore, 1987). This has equipped humans with a range of biological – including psychological – adaptations for cooperation. These adaptations can be seen as natural selection’s ‘attempts’ to solve the problems of cooperation. More recently, improvisational intelligence and cultural transmission (Boyd et al., 2011, Pinker, 2010) have made it possible for humans to attempt to improve upon natural selection’s solutions by inventing evolutionarily-novel solutions – ‘tools and rules’ – for further bolstering cooperation (Binmore, 1994a, Binmore, 1994b, Hammerstein, 2003, Nagel, 1991, Popper, 1945). Together, these biological and cultural mechanisms provide the motivation for social, cooperative and altruistic behaviour; and they provide the criteria by which individuals evaluate the behaviour of others. According to MAC, it is precisely these solutions to problems of cooperation – this collection of instincts, intuitions, inventions and institutions – that constitute human morality (Curry, 2005, Davies et al., 2014).2
Which problems of cooperation do humans face? And how are they solved? Evolutionary biology and game theory tell us that there is not just one problem of cooperation but many, with many different functionally, and perhaps phenotypically, distinct solutions (Lehmann and Keller, 2006, Nunn and Lewis, 2001, Robinson and Goforth, 2005, Sachs et al., 2004). Our review of this literature suggests that there are (at least) seven well-established types of cooperation: (1) the allocation of resources to kin; (2) coordination to mutual advantage; (3) social exchange; and conflict resolution through contests featuring (4) hawkish displays of dominance and (5) dove-ish displays of submission; (6) division of disputed resources; and (7) recognition of possession. We briefly review each of these below, and we consider how each type of cooperation provides an explanation for a corresponding type of morality (Table 1).
Table 1. Overview of morality-as-cooperation.

1FamilyKin selectionKin AltruismDuty of care, special obligations to kinIncest, neglectBlood is thicker than water
2GroupCoordinationMutualismLoyalty, unity, solidarity, conformityBetrayal, treasonUnited we stand, divided we fall
3ReciprocitySocial DilemmaReciprocal AltruismReciprocity, trustworthiness, forgivenessCheating, ingratitudeOne good turn deserves another
4HeroismConflict Resolution (Contest)Hawkish DisplaysBravery, fortitude, largesseCowardice, miserlinessWith great power comes great responsibility
5DeferenceConflict Resolution (Contest)Dove-ish DisplaysRespect, obedience, humilityDisrespect, hubrisBlessed are the meek
6FairnessConflict Resolution (Bargaining)DivisionFairness, impartiality, equalityUnfairness, favouritismLet’s meet in the middle
7PropertyConflict Resolution (Possession)OwnershipRespect for property, property rightsTheft, trespassPossession in nine-tenths of the law

2.1. Allocation of resources to kin (Family Values)

Genes that benefit replicas of themselves that reside in other individuals – that is, genetic relatives – will be favoured by natural selection if the cost of helping is outweighed by the benefit to the recipient gene(s) (Dawkins, 1979, Hamilton, 1963). So, evolutionary theory leads us to expect that under some conditions organisms will possess adaptations for detecting and delivering benefits (or avoiding doing harm) to kin. This theory of kin selection explains many instances of altruism, in many species (Gardner & West, 2014), including humans (Kurland and Gaulin, 2005, Lieberman et al., 2007). MAC predicts that because strategies for kin altruism realise a mutual benefit, they will be regarded as morally good. This theory can explain why caring for offspring (Edel & Edel, 1959/1968; an ‘ethic of care’; Gilligan, 1982), helping family members (Fukuyama, 1996, Wong, 1984, and avoiding inbreeding (Lieberman et al., 2003, Westermarck, 1994) have been widely regarded as important components of morality.

2.2. Coordination to mutual advantage (Group Loyalty)

In game theory, situations in which individuals are uncertain about how to behave in order to bring about a mutual benefit are modelled as coordination problems (Lewis, 1969). Humans and other animals use a variety of strategies – such as focal points, traditions, leadership, signalling, badges of membership, and ‘theory of mind’ – to solve these problems (Alvard, 2001, Boos et al., 2011, Curry and Jones Chesters, 2012, McElreath et al., 2003), and form stable coalitions and alliances (Balliet et al., 2014, Bissonnette et al., 2015, Harcourt and de Waal, 1992). MAC predicts that because solutions to coordination problems realise mutual benefits, they will be regarded as morally good. This theory can explain why participating in collaborative endeavours (Royce, 1908), favouring your own group (Bernhard et al., 2006, Gert, 2013), and adopting local conventions (Gibbard, 1990a, Gibbard, 1990b) have been widely regarded as important components of morality.

2.3. Social exchange (Reciprocity)

In game theory, social dilemmas – prisoners dilemmas, public goods games, tragedies of the commons – arise when the fruits of cooperation are vulnerable to ‘free riders’, who accept the benefit of cooperation, without paying the cost (Ostrom & Walker, 2002). This problem can be overcome by a strategy of ‘conditional cooperation’ or ‘reciprocal altruism’, such as tit-for-tat (Axelrod, 1984, Trivers, 1971). Evidence for conditional cooperation has been found in numerous animal species (Carter, 2014), including humans (Cosmides and Tooby, 2005, Henrich et al., 2005, Jaeggi and Gurven, 2013). MAC predicts that because solutions to social dilemmas realise mutual benefits, they will be regarded as morally good. This theory can explain why reciprocity in general (Chilton and Neusner, 2009, Confucius, 1994), as well as its various subcomponents – trust (Baier, 1995), patience (Curry, Price, & Price, 2008), gratitude (Emmons, 2004), guilt (Gibbard, 1990b), apology (Ohtsubo & Watanabe, 2009), and forgiveness (Downie, 1965, Godfray, 1992, Richards, 1988) – have been widely regarded as important components of morality.

2.4. Contests between Hawks (Heroism) & 2.5 Doves (Deference)

Conflict over resources – food, territory, and mates (Huntingford & Turner, 1987) – presents organisms with an opportunity to cooperate by competing in less mutually-destructive ways (Maynard Smith & Price, 1973). There are three ways of achieving this: contests (featuring the display of hawkish and dove-ish traits), division, and possession.
Game theory has shown that conflicts can be settled through ‘contests’, in which individuals display reliable indicators of their ‘fighting ability’, and the weaker ‘contestant’ defers to the stronger (Gintis et al., 2001, Maynard Smith and Price, 1973). Such contests are widespread in nature (Hardy and Briffa, 2013, Riechert, 1998), and often form the basis of dominance hierarchies where resources are allocated by ‘rank’ (Preuschoft & van Schaik, 2000). Humans have a similar repertoire of status-related behaviours (Fiddick et al., 2013, Mazur, 2005, Sell et al., 2009), and culturally elaborated hierarchies (Boone, 1992, Rubin, 2000). MAC predicts that because hawkish displays of dominance, and dove-ish displays of submission, together realise mutual benefits, they will be regarded as morally good. This theory can explain why these two apparently contradictory sets of traits (Berlin, 1997) – the ‘heroic virtues’ of fortitude, bravery, skill, and wit, and the ‘monkish virtues’ of humility, deference, obedience, and respect – have been widely regarded as important components of morality (Curry, 2007, MacIntyre, 1981a, MacIntyre, 1981b).

2.6. Division (Fairness)

When the contested resource is divisible, game theory models the situation as a ‘bargaining problem’ (Nash, 1950). Here, one solution is to divide the resource in proportion to the relative (bargaining) power of the protagonists (Skyrms, 1996). In the case of equally powerful individuals, this results in equal shares (Maynard Smith, 1982). Evidence for a ‘sense of fairness’ comes from non-human primates’ adverse reactions to unequal treatment in economic games (Brosnan, 2013, Brosnan and de Waal, 2014). With regard to humans, rules such as “I cut, you choose”, “meet in the middle”, “split the difference”, and “take turns”, are ancient and widespread means of resolving disputes (Brams & Taylor, 1996). And ‘equal shares’ is a spontaneous and cross-culturally prevalent decision rule in economic games (Henrich et al., 2005) and similar situations (Messick, 1993). MAC predicts that because dividing resources avoids a costly fight, and therefore realises a mutual benefit, it will be regarded as morally good. This theory can explain why fairness (Rawls, 1958) and willingness to compromise (Pennock & Chapman, 1979) have been widely regarded as important components of morality.

2.7. Possession (Property Rights)

Finally, game theory shows that conflicts over resources can be resolved by deference to prior possession (Gintis, 2007, Hare et al., 2016, Maynard Smith, 1982). The recognition of prior possession is widespread in nature (Sherratt and Mesterton-Gibbons, 2015, Strassmann and Queller, 2014). Humans also defer to prior possession in vignette studies (DeScioli and Karpoff, 2015, Friedman and Neary, 2008), experimental games (the ‘endowment effect’; Kahneman & Tversky, 1979), the law (Rose, 1985), and international relations (Johnson & Toft, 2014). Private property, in some form or other, appears to be a cross-cultural universal (Herskovits, 1952). MAC predicts that because deferring to prior possession avoids a costly fight, and therefore realises a mutual benefit, it will be regarded as morally good. This theory can explain why the right to own property and the prohibition of theft (Becker, 1977, Locke, 2000, Pennock and Chapman, 1980) have been widely regarded as an important components of morality.

3. Summary and predictions

Morality-as-Cooperation (MAC) is the theory that morality consists of a collection of biological and cultural solutions to the problems of cooperation recurrent in human social life. MAC draws upon the mathematics of cooperation to identify and distinguish between different types of cooperation, and thereby explain different facets of morality. The present review has identified seven types of cooperation, and hence seven candidate moral domains: obligations to family, group loyalty, reciprocity, bravery, respect, fairness, and property rights. Thus MAC can explain why specific forms of cooperative behaviour – helping kin, helping one’s group, reciprocating costs and benefits, displaying ‘hawkish’ and dove-ish traits, dividing disputed resources, and respecting prior possession – are regarded as morally good, and why the corresponding forms of uncooperative behaviour – neglecting kin, betraying one’s group, free-riding, cowardice, disrespect, unfairness and theft – are regarded as morally bad.
Starting from these first principles, MAC makes the following predictions about morality. First, with regard to content, MAC predicts that people will regard each type of cooperation as morally relevant; that is, as falling within the moral domain. Second, with regard to structure, MAC predicts that because the incidence and value of these different types of cooperation vary independently in social life (and are perhaps subserved by different psychological mechanisms) the strength of endorsement of each of the corresponding types of morality will vary independently too. In other words, each of these seven types of cooperation will give rise to a distinct moral domain. Accordingly, the theory predicts that moral values will exhibit a multifactorial structure, varying on these seven dimensions. Moreover, as a corollary of this prediction regarding structure, MAC predicts that behaviour not tied to a specific type of cooperation will not constitute a distinct moral domain. These predictions about the content and structure of morality distinguish MAC from previous evolutionary and cooperative theories of morality.

3.0.1. Moral Foundations Theory

The most widely-used, and thus far most extensive, attempt to map the moral domain is Moral Foundations Theory (MFT; Haidt & Graham, 2007) operationalised in the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (MFQ; Graham et al., 2011). Like MAC, MFT takes a cooperative approach to morality, and maintains that there are many moral domains. But, unlike MAC, MFT does not derive its domains from any underlying theory of cooperation (Haidt & Joseph, 2011), and proposes only five: Care, Fairness, Ingroup, Authority and Purity.3 Like MAC, MFT includes domains dedicated to group loyalty (Ingroup), deference (Authority) and fairness (Fairness). But unlike MAC, MFT does not include domains dedicated to family, reciprocity, heroism, or property. MFT has no foundation dedicated to kin altruism; the MFQ does have two items pertaining to kin, but they appear under Fairness and Ingroup. Nor has MFT any foundation dedicated to reciprocal altruism: MFT places reciprocity (a solution to iterated prisoners’ dilemmas) and fairness (a solution to bargaining problems) under the same heading, and the MFQ has no items pertaining to reciprocity. MFT has no foundations, and the MFQ has no items, dedicated to hawkish displays of dominance, such as bravery. And the only mention of property occurs in an item about inheritance under the foundation of Fairness.
MFT also includes domains – Care and Purity – that are not related to a specific type of cooperation, and that MAC therefore predicts will not constitute coherent domains.
MAC predicts that moral psychology will be sensitive to the benefits (care, altruism) and costs (harms) of social interaction — for what is cooperation but a particular configuration of benefits and costs? But, as we have seen, MAC suggests that there are different types of benefits and costs — with different causes and consequences. For example, some ‘harms’, such as murder, are considered morally bad because they violate one or more cooperative principles (they break implicit social contracts against the use of force, and constitute an escalation of conflict, as opposed to its peaceful resolution). Other ‘harms’, such as punishment or self-defence, are considered morally good because they promote cooperation. This perspective suggests that it is a mistake to attempt to analyse benefits and costs in isolation, outside of their cooperative context, by placing them in a separate, generic domain dedicated to care or harm.
‘Purity’, meanwhile, has been described as the avoidance of “people with diseases, parasites [and] waste products” (Haidt & Joseph, 2004). It has no explicated connection to cooperation; on the contrary, it is regarded as an “odd corner” of morality precisely because it is not “concerned with how we treat other people” (Haidt & Joseph, 2004). By contrast, MAC suggests that the problem of avoiding pathogens (and other disgust-eliciting stimuli) is not a moral problem per se; instead, ‘pure’ or ‘impure’ behaviour is moralised only when it provides benefits, or imposes costs on, others – for example, by putting their health at risk. So, avoiding rotten fruit on a tree is not a moral issue, but coughing in public without covering your mouth is. And, because there are many different ways in which disgusting behaviour might influence others – the problem of avoiding incest is not the same as the problem of avoiding people with poor personal hygiene – MAC suggests that it is a mistake to single out ‘purity’ as a separate, generic domain.

3.0.2. Relational Models Theory

Similarly, like MAC, Fiske’s Relational Models Theory (RMT) takes a cooperative approach to morality, and maintains that there are many moral domains. But, unlike MAC, RMT does not derive its domains from any underlying theory of cooperation, and proposes only four: Unity, Hierarchy, Equality and Proportionality (Fiske and Rai, 2014, Rai and Fiske, 2011).4 Unlike MAC, RMT’s domain of Unity does not distinguish between family and group; Hierarchy does not distinguish between hawkish heroism and dove-ish deference; and Equality and Proportionality do not distinguish between reciprocity and fairness. Interestingly, like MAC, and unlike MFT, RMT argues that there are no distinct domains dedicated to ‘harm' or ‘purity’.5

3.0.3. Theory of Dyadic Morality

Unlike MAC (and MFT and RMT), Gray’s Theory of Dyadic Morality (TDM) (Schein & Gray, 2018) does not take a cooperative approach to morality, but instead argues that the function of moral rules is to minimise harm to others (and is therefore a form of utilitarianism). TDM recognises that there may be different “genres” of harm that correspond to MFT’s domains, but argues that all moral violations are processed by general-purpose psychological mechanisms, as opposed to distinct special-purpose mechanisms. Like MAC, and RMT, TDM does not accept MFT’s claim that ‘purity’ is a distinct domain of morality – indeed, TDM has marshalled considerable evidence to suggest that ‘impure’ or disgusting acts are merely a particular form of harmful behaviour (Gray, Schein, & Ward, 2014).

3.0.4. Side-Taking Theory of Morality

Finally, like MAC, DeScioli and Kurzban’s ‘side-taking’ theory of morality (STTM) agrees that cooperation explains moral behaviour: “evolutionary theories of morality [that] focus on understanding cooperation…do an excellent job of explaining why humans…care for offspring, cooperate in groups, trade favors, communicate honestly, and respect property” (DeScioli, 2016: 23). However, whereas MAC would argue that these cooperative theories also explain why people make and express moral judgements – for example, to decide with whom to cooperate in future (Krasnow, Delton, Cosmides, & Tooby, 2016), to warn friends and family of uncooperative individuals, to enhance one’s reputation as trustworthy or heroic (Barclay, 2016), or to recruit allies to prosecute an offender (Petersen, 2013) – STTM argues instead that the sole function of moral judgements is to provide salient focal points around which people coordinate when taking sides in interpersonal conflicts (DeScioli and Kurzban, 2009, DeScioli and Kurzban, 2013). STTM maintains that a wide range of content, including cooperative rules, can fulfil this function.
Thus MAC makes predictions about the content and structure of morality that are more extensive and detailed than those of previous theories. For the remainder of this paper we will focus on testing MAC’s predictions against those of the most well-developed theory – MFT – and return to the implications of our findings for the other theories in the general discussion.
Previous empirical research provides some support for MAC’s predictions about the content and structure of morality.

3.1. The content of morality

With regard to content, an analysis of the historical ethnographic records of 60 societies found that the moral valence of these seven cooperative behaviours was uniformly positive, and that there is evidence for the majority of these cooperative moral values in the majority of cultures, in all regions of the world (Curry et al., 2019). Research on more contemporary populations paints a similar picture. First, a survey of family values involving student samples from 30 countries (Byrne and van de Vijver, 2014, Georgas et al., 2006) and responses to items in the World Values Survey, conducted in over 65 societies (Inglehart & Baker, 2000), indicate that ‘helping kin’ is widely considered to be morally good. Second, responses from internet samples to the Ingroup items in the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (Graham et al., 2011), and responses from student samples in 20 countries to items from the Schwartz Basic Values Survey (Schwartz, 1992) both indicate that ‘helping your group’ is widely considered to be morally good. Third, endorsement of the norms of positive and negative reciprocity in student samples (Eisenberger, Lynch, Aselage, & Rohdieck, 2004), in Britain and Italy (Perugini, Gallucci, Presaghi, & Ercolani, 2003), and responses to some items in the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths in 54 countries (Park et al., 2006, Peterson and Seligman, 2004) and Schwartz’s Values Scale (Schwartz, 1992) indicate that ‘reciprocity’ is widely considered to be morally good. Fourth, investigations into the concept of honour, among students in the US and Turkey (Cross et al., 2014) indicate that various hawkish traits such as bravery are considered to be morally good. Fifth, responses to Authority items in the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (Graham et al., 2011), and to items from the Schwartz Basic Values Survey (Schwartz, 1992) indicate that ‘respecting superiors’ is widely considered to be morally good. Sixth, responses to items in the Merit Principle Scale in student samples (Davey, Bobocel, Son Hing, & Zanna, 1999) indicate that ‘dividing disputed resources’ is considered to be morally good. And seventh, responses to items in the World Values Survey (reported in Weeden & Kurzban, 2013) indicate that ‘respecting property’ is widely considered to be morally good.
However, previous research has not provided a full test of MAC’s predictions about the content of morality; no previous study has investigated the moral relevance of all seven forms of cooperative behaviour in a single, contemporary, representative sample. Instead, the studies reviewed above have measured different aspects of morality, in different ways; the scales they employ typically measure something other than the moral relevance (or valence) of cooperation (for example, they ask whether a person or a society possesses a particular trait, rather than whether the trait is moral); and the samples they use are typically composed only of students.

3.2. The structure of morality

With regard to structure, no previous research has investigated MAC’s prediction that these seven different types of cooperation will give rise to distinct domains of morality. This is because no previous attempts to map the moral domain – even those that have argued that the function of morality is to promote cooperation – have been guided by the mathematics of cooperation reviewed above, and hence none contain all of the domains predicted by MAC (Curry, 2016).
Nevertheless, despite its limitations, it is possible to ask whether previous work using the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (MFQ) supports MAC’s predictions where the two theories overlap. Here the evidence is mixed. Factor analysis has provided only limited support for MFT’s five-factor model. The original exploratory factor analysis of data collected using the MFQ suggested a two-factor model (Table 2 in Graham et al., 2011). Confirmatory factor analysis of this data suggested that MFT’s five-factor model provided a better fit; but the size of the improvement was marginal, and more importantly, none of the resulting five-factor models exhibited a conventionally ‘acceptable’ model fit (CFIs ≤ 0.88; Table 10; Graham et al., 2011). Subsequent independent replications in Italy (CFI = 0.88; Bobbio, Nencini, & Sarrica, 2011), New Zealand (CFI = 0.83; Davies, Sibley, & Liu, 2014), Korea (CFI = 0.68; Glover et al., 2014), Sweden (CFI = 0.68; Nilsson & Erlandsson, 2015), and Turkey (CFI = 0.78; Yilmaz, Harma, Bahcekapili, & Cesur, 2016), as well as a 27 country study using the short-form MFQ (CFIs ≤ 0.70; Iurino & Saucier, submitted), all suggest a similar pattern. For this reason, an alternative two-factor model – consisting of an ‘individualising’ domain of Care and Fairness, and the ‘binding’ domain of Ingroup, Authority and Purity – is typically used in research (for example, see: Lewis and Bates, 2010, Smith et al., 2016).
Thus empirical research with the MFQ does not support MAC’s prediction that group, deference and fairness will be distinct domains; but it does support MAC’s prediction that domains not tied to specific forms of cooperation – namely Care and Purity – will not constitute distinct domains.
However, it is not clear whether these findings indicate a problem with the cooperative approach to morality in general, or merely a problem with the way that it has been operationalised and measured in Moral Foundations Theory and the MFQ. After all, proponents of MFT have acknowledged that the original list of foundations was somewhat “arbitrary” (p. 107), based on a limited review of only “five books and articles” (p. 107); that this list was never meant to be “exhaustive” (p. 104); and that they “do not know how many moral foundations there really are” (p. 58). And they have positively encouraged research that could “demonstrate the existence of an additional foundation, or show that any of the current five foundations should be merged or eliminated” (Graham et al., 2013, p. 99).
And so, in order to test MAC’s predictions – that there will be three additional domains (Family, Heroism, Property), that Reciprocity should not be merged with Fairness; and that Care and Purity should be eliminated – and to overcome the limitations of MFT and the MFQ, we set out to develop a new measure of morality, the ‘Morality-as-Cooperation Questionnaire’.6

[...][Methods, studies]

8. General discussion

Morality-as-Cooperation (MAC) is the theory that morality consists of a collection of solutions to recurrent problems of cooperation. Here we have shown how the mathematics of cooperation – derived from evolutionary biology and nonzero sum game theory – can be used to develop this theory; and by identifying seven candidate types of cooperative behaviour, we have extended the theory to incorporate and explain more aspects of morality than previous cooperative accounts.
We have also tested MAC’s predictions regarding the content and structure of morality, over the course of four studies. Regarding content, the results support the prediction that all seven types of cooperative behaviours – helping kin, helping one’s group, reciprocating costs and benefits, displaying ‘hawkish’ and dove-ish traits, dividing disputed resources, and respecting prior possession – will be considered relevant to morality. And regarding structure, the results support the prediction that there will be distinct moral domains dedicated to family, groups, reciprocity, heroism, deference, fairness and property. In this way, MAC goes beyond previous theories of morality, including MFT, to identify for the first time novel moral domains of morality relating to family, reciprocity, heroism and property.
More specifically, the results support MAC’s claim that (contrary to RMT) ‘family' can be distinguished from ‘group’, and (contrary to MFT and RMT) ‘reciprocity’ can be distinguished from ‘fairness’. And the results support MAC’s prediction that behaviour not tied to specific forms of cooperation (‘care’ and ‘purity’) will not form distinct moral domains (consistent with RMT, and RMT and TDM, respectively).
These studies have also produced a new scale for the measurement of morality – the MAC-Q – that exhibits broader and more detailed coverage than, and superior psychometric properties to, the previous leading scale. The results also question the routine combination of Relevance and Judgement scales. As originally anticipated (Graham et al., 2009), the Relevance and Judgement scales seem to measure somewhat disparate aspects of morality. Across three studies, we found consistent evidence indicating that Relevance and Judgement items should not be combined into a common scale without accounting for their differences. Until the reasons for this discrepancy between moral relevance and judgement is understood, we recommend either combining the measures using a MTMM model, as described above, or using one or both scales separately.

8.1. Limitations and future directions

First, the present study tested the general theory of MAC with respect to seven specific types of cooperation. Future research search should test the theory more widely still, using additional examples of cooperative behaviour. These might include ‘subcomponents’ of the types of cooperation discussed here; for example, ‘social exchange’ involves not just reciprocity, but also trust, gratitude, guilt, apology and forgiveness. Or it might include novel types of cooperation yet to be discovered or adumbrated by game theory and the behavioural sciences. Such research could extend MAC to other, as yet poorly understood, aspects of morality.
Second, the present study found that even though ‘care' and ‘purity' did not reliably emerge as unitary domains, the items they contained were nevertheless rated as relevant to morality. Future research should aim to explain why. Perhaps, as MAC suggests, these constructs reflect the operation of proximate mechanisms, such as sympathy and disgust, that contribute to the solution of multiple distinct problems of cooperation.15
Third, the present study has successfully ‘isolated’ seven different types of morality. Future research should investigate how they interact. For example, MAC predicts that having to choose between alternative, incompatible cooperative courses of action will give rise to moral dilemmas. Should you tend to your ailing mother, or go off to fight for your country (Sartre, 1946/1973)? MAC also predicts that when one cooperative opportunity is pursued at the expense of some larger more valuable opportunity (‘the greater good’), the former will be regarded as (relatively) morally bad (Muthukrishna, Francois, Pourahmadi, & Henrich, 2017). And MAC suggests that these seven first-order ‘moral elements’ may combine to form 21  second-order ‘moral molecules’ (and 35 third-order molecules, and so on). For example, Family and Deference may combine to form Filial Piety (Nichols, 2013). Investigating how dilemmas arise and are resolved, and how higher-order concepts emerge, could extend the explanatory scope of the theory further still.
Fourth, the present study has looked for invariant aspects of morality, in two English-speaking Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, Democratic cultures (W.E.I.R.D; Henrich, Heine, & Norenzayan, 2010). Future research should test this factor-structure in a wider range of languages and cultures, and investigate how morality varies between individuals, within and between cultures – especially, whether moral values reflect the value of different types of cooperation under different social conditions.
Fifth, reviewing the final set of items, we note the possibility that some may be less-than-optimally phrased. For example, it’s possible that questions that use comparative (“there should be more X”), superlative (“Y is the most admirable trait”) or extreme (“you should always do Z”) terms may be somewhat ambiguous, and hence difficult to interpret. Participants may value X, but disagree with the item because they think there is enough of it; they may admire Y, but disagree with because they think it is the second most important trait; or they may endorse X, but disagree because they can conceive of plausible exceptions. This applies to MAC-Q items like “Society should do more to honour its heroes”, “Courage in the face of adversity is the most admirable trait”, and “You should always be loyal to your family”, as well as MFQ items like “It is more important to be a team player than to express oneself”, “Compassion for those who are suffering is the most crucial virtue”, “It can never be right to kill a human being”. Future research should experiment with simpler positive language, being mindful of the ceiling and floor effects that ‘milder' items may produce. We also note that the MAC-Q Heroism item “To be willing to lay down your life for your country is the height of bravery” introduces a possible confound with Mutualism, and should be avoided in future. In addition, we note that the Division items focus on the simplest form of fairness: equality. Future research should aim to explore other more nuanced expressions of fairness, such as proportionality or merit, which can lead to unequal outcomes (Starmans, Sheskin, & Bloom, 2017). Lastly, the item selection procedure delivered reversed Judgement items for Property, and for Property only, which may have introduced a confound in the valence of the items. Future work should investigate this, and if necessary correct it. Generally speaking, future research should aim to replicate the present findings with alternative sets of items, and indeed with other types of stimuli (such as standardised vignettes) (Clifford, Iyengar, Cabeza, & Sinnott-Armstrong, 2015).
Finally, the present study found that the MAC-Q’s psychometrics performed well, and compare favourably to the MFQ’s, but there is room for improvement, especially with regard to external criterion scales. Future research should aim to identify external scales which ask questions more directly related to the moral valence of the behaviour (rather than, as noted above, asking whether a person performs that behaviour). Such research should also extend beyond self-report scales to use performances on tasks, and behavioural measures such as experimental games.

9. Conclusion

Here we have introduced the theory of Morality-as-Cooperation, and shown how it provides a principled, predictive and productive approach to the content and structure of morality. Using cooperation as our compass, we have charted a new course, and drawn up a more accurate map of the moral landscape – revealing familiar ground in greater detail, and surveying previously unexplored territory. Thus equipped, with map and compass, we look forward to further discoveries ahead.