Moral Judgment and Behaviour (PSYL10100)

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Moral Judgment and Behaviour (PSYL10100)

Morality is critical to our lives, with differences in what people think is moral or not, and differences in what people do in moral situations, profoundly affecting individual and collective wellbeing, social harmony, and political and economic policy. This course will examine the factors affecting moral behaviour, including helping behaviours, charitable donation, exploitation of others, corporate malfeasance, and hypocrisy. It will also look at the major contemporary models of moral judgment and reasoning, and the evidence both for and against them. Throughout the course we will ask where the focus of morality is: the individual or the situation.

The course will be divided into 5 sessions, each lasting for 1 hour and 50 minutes. While the majority of time will be devoted to lectures, students are encouraged to ask questions throughout and there will be group discussion(s) as class size allows. The texts used will consist of assigned articles. Each set of readings includes at least one generally accessible paper and several experimental articles that purport to test theories/findings related to the topic. Most articles are available via the main library or psychology library. For those articles that are not, they can be obtained via Learn. Please email me if you have trouble obtaining them.

Tuesdays 14:10 - 16:00
Semester 1, Block 2
7 George Square, S.1
Models of moral judgement; rationalism, intuition, & dual process models
7 George Square, S.1
30/10/2018 - 2:10pm to 4:00pm
Models of moral judgement continued; intuitionism, personality, politics, & protected values.
7 George Square, S.1
06/11/2018 - 2:10pm to 4:00pm
Moral behaviour; sensemaking, social influences on (im)moral action, & corporate wrongdoing
7 George Square, S.1
13/11/2018 - 2:10pm to 4:00pm
Moral behaviour responsibility and hypocrisy.
7 George Square, S.1
20/11/2018 - 2:10pm to 4:00pm
Moral behaviour continued; mass atrocities, psychic numbing, & public policy.
7 George Square, S.1
27/11/2018 - 2:10pm to 4:00pm
Learning Outcomes: 

Students should be able to identify key streams of research in the study of moral behaviour and judgment, discuss empirical findings that test key models of explanation in these areas, and identify factors that play a role in how human beings perceive and react to moral situations.


Sample References:

Haidt, J. (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail: A social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychological Review, 108, 814-834.

Greene, J.D., Nystrom, L.E., Engell, A.D., Darley, J.M., & Cohen, J.D. (2004). The neural bases of cognitive control in moral judgment. Neuron, 44, 389-400.

Wakslak, C.J., Jost, J.T., Tyler, T.R., & Chen, E.S. (2007). Moral outrage mediates the dampening effect of system justification on support for redistributive social policies. Psychological Science, 18, 267-274.

Greenberg, J. (1987). A taxonomy of organizational justice theories. The Academy of Management Review, 12, 9-22.

Mintz, M. (1987). At any cost: Corporate greed, women, and the Dalkon shield. In Corporate Violence: Injury and Death for Profit. Stuart L. Hills (Ed.). Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Littlefield.


Please note: the full reading list will be posted on Learn, and specific lecture content may be adjusted as time and progress unfold.



Additional Information: 


65% essay (maximum length 2000 words). A take home piece of coursework that analyses a contemporary, 'real world' moral issue through the lens of one (or more) of the models/theories we cover in class. Deadline Monday 6 November. Marks and feedback return Monday 27 November.

35% reading response (600 words each): 2 reading responses analysing assigned papers and reacting to highlighted issues.


An electronic copy of each participation and reading response assignment must be submitted via Turnitin by the deadline. A link to Turnitin will be available via Learn. The electronic submission allows us also to check the exact word count.


The submission deadline must be observed. Failure to comply with the deadline without good reason will incur mark penalties as follows:

  • Up to 7 calender days, 5 marks per calender day will be deducted
  • More than 7 calender days late a mark of zero will be given