Psychology of Good

PSYCH 357 - Winter 2018 - University of Waterloo

Dr. Christopher T. Burris & Dr. John Rempel

Lecture 1: Jan 4, 2018

What comes to mind when you think of good?

Moral Foundations Theory

Jonathan Haidt - developed a theory of what are the basic moral foundations. Most influential theory.

    Moral Foundations Theory (1-2: Individuating-Autonomy, 3-5: Binding, 3-4: Community, 5: Divinity)
  1. Harm/care (H) - basic concerns for the suffering of others, including virtues of caring and compassion. Want to raise infant until they can take care of themselves. How do we keep this going? Turtle moms lay eggs and leave- perfectly natural. How do we get a parent to not be a turtle parent? Bonding. Breastfeeding, sex - oxytocin. Chemicals. We've got it. Taking care of people.
  2. Fairness/reciprocity (P?) - concerns about unfair treatment, inequality and more abstract notions of justice. Is it fair or not.
  3. Ingroup/loyalty (I) - Concerns related to obligations of group membership, such as loyalty, self-sacrifice, and vigilance against betrayal. Being committed to your ingroup.
  4. Authority/Respect (A) - Concerns related to social order and the obligations of hierarchical relationships such as obedience, respect, and proper role fulfillment. Why want obedience? A child may not listen, go out, and do dumb stuff to get themselves killed.
  5. Purity/Sancitity (P) - Physical and spiritual contagion, including virtues of chastity, wholesomeness, and control of desires. Contamination, pathogens, disgust, "toxic." Symbolic. Offended by using flag to clean the toilet - desecration s. "it's a really good cloth"
    Hitler's sweater - would you put on Hitler's sweater? "Ew, no. I'm gonna get Hitler on me!" Hitler-y

What is "Good"?

It's a question of morality, but we're going to look at data.

Approach: understand its opposite - immoral

Gray & Kennedy (2016) - Harm/impurity or severe/"weird"? Specific or general? Took some moral scenarios in Moral Foundations research. Harm scenarios and impurity scenarios. Asked: how much harm and how weird? Harm/impurity confounded with severe/weird. Harm scenarios have more severe consequences. Sever scenarios are just weird. Reactions to these scenarios - impure highly positively correlated with harm judgements. Same direction pretty closely. Talking about it distinct, but data ssays they're the same. Argument: Morality is one thing. Confound -> no clear support for moral foundations.

dyadic Morality (Gray, Waytz, Young) - Prototypic immoral behaviour is interpersonal harm.

dyadic Completion (Gray, Schein, Ward 2014) - if dyadic morality is right, then people will perceive harm happening. If moral judgements are relevant, they will see the harm. If you see an agent, you will see a patient on the other side. Reflex. harm is the default moral judgement.

"immoral" -> harm to an immoral patient

There's harm, but where's the harm? Asked if it was agent (self), patient, or society? People were given lots of time to think and respond - is this really what they think? Problem: retrospective (not automatic). Common response: "I didn't need to see that" by the perceive.

Alternative (never been tested): perceiver (judge) as the victim/patient. Harm is the nastiness. Experiencing themselves as being harmed. Is moral judge the victim by being exposed to this stuff? What they did made me feel this way. Disgust sensitive - more extreme judgements across different domains. Other emotions - same thing. More sensitive - go off and vomit. More reactive -> more intense.

Lecture 2: Jan 11, 2018

Most of Grey's stuff focuses on negative moral judgements - a theory of immoral behaviour, violations that make people react. If we understand immorality, it gives understanding of morality.


typical harm-causing agent (all of us): "I'm good (enough)" Most of us are going ot insist that we're good people or at least that we're good enough. Doing that in the aftermath of intentionally harming someone. And we continue insisting that we're good. But how do we do that? How do we see ourselves as good?



Humans have a need to belong. We are a social spieces. We need to be part of a group. That need for belonging got hardwired into us because it makes survival sense - we were able to learn to cooperate and work in groups to hunt and defend ourselves. If you're by yourself, you're screwed. We have a deep-seeded need to feel as though we're part of a group. We don't have to be good, we just have to be good enough. We don't have to be good enough, we just have to be not so bad that we don't get rejected. When people are ostracized, the same parts of the brain light up as with when people experience physical pain. Social rejectionis physically painful. Sets up a powerful motive.

intentional harm + "unjustifiable"

"immoral" ----------> "EVIL"

"EVIL" = ultimate signifier of social rejection.

When we engage in intentional harm. Intentional harm is considered as immoral. If we can't justify that intentional harm? We're not able to make it okay with the group. We call it Evil. Evil is intentional, unjustifiable harm. Evil is the ultimate signifier of social rejection. Once a person os labelled evil, that means you're beyond the group, you're excluded/outside. "The Mark of Cain" - Cain killed his brother - you're gonna lose everything - I'm gonna mark you so no one can kill you - My punishment is greater than I can bear. (bigfoot) You're beyond acceptance. You are targeted for rejection. When we're busted, we go into damage control. We want to get away from this sense of panic, shame, and pain that's associated with social rejection.

"Real" good

"intentional moral agent"

"moral patient" with the capacity to experience beneficial consequences

Replacing capacity to suffer capacity to benefit. These are morally approved behaviours. Includes mentalizing - you want to enhance the patient's experience. Findhorn - Scotland - Very green. Backstory - founders had visions and communicated with the nature spirits. Told them what they neeeded to do to plant things. Divas. Attributing the capacity for experience to these plants.

"Greatest" good

"unjustifiable" = no self benefits... only self costs? intentional unjustifiable benefit. Unjustifiable - There's no obvious benefits to the self. No benefits, maybe even be costly to the self. Doing that just cause it benefits the other.

How common, rare or illusory? Does altruistic motivation exist? Cialdini: no. Bats: yes, not common, but it exists. The more extreme the example, the more likely it is that people look at it and say it's something special. Heroes, saints, martyrs. Extreme acts are celebrated. Altruistic love is what is celebrated as being the highest - focus is on benefiting the other.

Recap: try to understand what is good? Got various moral frameworks, perspectives. There are still other pieces.

Core Virtues

(Dahlsgaard, Peterson, and Seligman 2005) - framework. philosophical, religious traditions. Tried to identify the core virtues. virtues - people who do good a lot of time. Virtuous - promoting the good.

A lot of similar concepts that fit will in the big picture. There doesn't seem to be a 1 to 1 correspondence. Massive world traditions - we can see common themes - themes look at what is good.

Model of Moral Motives

(Janoff-Bulman & Carnes (2013)) Another framework. This starts to tie into ideas of how you do good.

SELF (personal) OTHER (interpersonal) GROUP (collective)
Defense/inhibitation/Protect (proscriptive regulation) self-restraint/moderation not harming social order/communal solidarity
Appetitive/Activation/Provide (prescriptive regulation) industriousness helping/fairness social justice/communal responsibility

There are two motivational directions that are common across all kinds of psychological processes. Amoebic self-theory - comparing human sense of self and amoeba - suggested that there are two goals that all living creatures have - has to protect itself against things that could cause it harm. Two ways to do this - keep things from getting at you or if things got at you, you need to expel them. Sounds like avoidance - defence, inhibition, protection, regulation. It's all about protection. The other thing is to acquire those things that benefit them - acquisitional motivation. Getting, taking, acquiring, moving towards/approaching/obtaining those things that benefit us. Movement towards or away. We respond to them in certain ways. Eat, retreat and excrete (rhyming triplet). How does this fit into moral? These occur at various levels. Level of individual, interpersonal, and group.

Moral foundations theory only ties into some of these things. Individualizing - harm, care, fairness are there at the interpersonal level (giant individualizing banner on to of OTHER column). Inidividualizing is capture at the interpersonal level. Could argue that it's not limited at that level. That interpersonal level is being taking care of. Part of the group level is being taking care of by BINDING (binding banner on top of Group + defense) - you're supposed to respect authority, protect the collective, be true to your group. This whole other group level/MF hasn't be addressed. Haidt - suggested that psychologists have ignored conservative thinking. WE're not creating an environment that is inclusive. Liberals only focus on individualizing. Conservatives focus on individualizing and group. Janoff-Bulman said Haidt has missed social justice - liberal ideology are focused on the group but focused in a different way - concerned with equality, not discriminating. Social justice is a group level moral foundation.

Values and Core Motives

Schwartz (1992) values theory as a foundation for identify core motives underlying morality.

Values: trans-situational goals that vary in importance and serve as guiding principles.

He is using the language of goals. Goals implies motivation. He's looking at identifying transituational goals that people are motivated to obtain. The things we want to get at the most. Motives are important.

Developed using a bottom-up process Parellels the work done when mapping the human genome. Everybody working together to map this complex thing, once it's done we can really start to move forward. First, sent out a blank page to thousands of people. Asked people: what do you value? A lot of information. Hypothesized correctly that he would see a lot of overlapped. Came from over 30 countries. Not limited to one group. TRied to identify human values. What cuts across cultural groups? What is it that we all share? got it down to 62 values. Make a scale, hand it out to people. Everyone rates it on a scale from 0 to 11. The whole scale doesn't get used most of the time. 30k people. Most people use a small scale (8,9,10). They're values, of course you're going to value them. Question is: which you put at 6-10.

Schwartz's Values Circumplex. Methodology: Smallest spaces analysis. See where things cluster. I value honesty, also very likely to say I value being forgiven. If you highly value social power, also wealth, authority, preserving public image. Center point: weighted average of the distances. Critical point: the analysis itself tells you how many dimensions you need to capture the variation in your data. Could've been one dimension (1 line), etc. Ended up being 2D tells us that as human beings, our values can be framed along two dimensions.

First dimension: diagonal. one end: Tradition, devout, moderate, conformity, obedient, elders, self-discipline - package of things, security, belonging, social order, benevolence, loyalty, responsible. The other end: being independent, curious, freedom, daring, exciting life, self-direction, Could have chosen to put this line anywhere. 1 end: conservation, other end: openness to change. When you look at conservation: keeping things safe, stable, non-threatening, familiar, protected. Openness to change: change, alteration, new, excitement, not stable/safe, risky, new things coming in, things you've never experienced before, acquiring. Captures one key set of human beliefs: same theme as Janet-Bulman

Why is it two dimensions and not one? Whatever that dimension is, it's as important to us as appetite and defense. There's something else that matters to us at that level. Other diagonal. 2nd dimension: 1 end (top right): Social power, ambition, self indulgence, success, authority, public image. Other end: inner harmony, social justice, protecting environment, equality, wisdom, openmindedness. People who choose one, will be unlikely to choose the other end. top right: self-enhancement - benefiting the self, other end: self-transendence - benefiting beyond the self. This is actually the dimension of morality. It's a social dimension of dominance vs. equality. Competition vs. cooperation. Fundamentally social. Values don't make sense if we don't put people in the equation. the 2nd set of values is a set of social values - you have poeople who prioritize their own wellbeing, and others prioritizing the wellbeing of what's beyond themselves. They're all good in and of themselves, it's a matter of prioritizing. Self-enhancement: my own needs, wellbeing will come first. Self-transendence- no, the wellbeing of others matters just as much, maybe even more.

This is something that thousands of people have told us. Key: how we relate to others.

Looked online-collected data - moral foundations questionnaire. Lots of people online can fill it out. See if certain consistent clusters emerge. You end up with four groups/patterns that reflect the way in which people respond. The social Structure of Moral Foundations - graph. H - harm. F - fairness. I - ingroup. A - authority. P - purity/sanctity. Peolpe's averages. 4 clustes - labels of what these people look like (demographics). Distinguishing between individualizing vs. binding group. Harm/fairness, binding are the others. 3 of 4 groups, inidividualizing are pripriritized. In the one group, they're all equal. Cluster 1 + 4 - Secular Liberals (not religious) and Social Conservatives. Secular Liberals - is it fair and is anyone getting hurt? Fair, then it's moral. Social Conservatives - all 5 at same level - not prioritizing one framework over the other - some say good - diversifying, some say ehh. Two groups don't get along. Cluster 2 + 3 - Libertarians - harm+fairness are higher than binding, but h/f not a heck of a lot higher than conservatives, binding not a heck of a lot higher than secular - lowest of the low - extreme individualism - self-direction - leave me alone and let me do whatever I want (Tea party). Religous LEft - as high as liberals on individ, as high as conservatives on binding. Individ still a lot higher. Recognize value in all of them, but will prioritize one over the other.

When you look at their value systems. Social Conservatives - conservation end, (moral frameworks run self-trascendence, self-enhancement direction), find people on both sides. Not one kind of moral brand. Secular liberals - on openness to change end, some take universalist/benevolent approach, some are self-service. Religious left - on self-trasendence - across conservation and openness to change - thick morality. Libtertarianism - thin moral framework - on self-direction to self-enhancement. We can map a couple of these things onto each other.

Putting it all together

self enhancement vs. self-transcendence is the "moral" dimension - to be moral is to prioritize the well-being of that which is beyond the self rather than prioritizing the well-being of the self. To be immoral is to prioritize the well-being of the self at the expense of things beyond the self. This is how we're defining good - it has to do with prioritizing.

Many foundations or One foundation to rule them all?


Different levels of analysis - example in another field. Emotional theorists have argued that we experience emotions as a way to alert us to changes in the environment. We feel different things - fear -> threatening, disgust -> expulsion, joy. Despite all of these emotions, they are basically all focused on two goals: either designed to protect you to avoid danger, or to benefit you in terms of acquisitions and satiating your appetite. They're working together. We have many emotions organized with two basic motives. Physics vs. Chemistry - one looks at the building blocks (how do they fit together and work together). It's not either or.

Moral foundations emerge as a response to distinct evolutionary challenges. Challenges can be varied - taking care of infants, fairness + reciprocity, etc. Challenges are there and we have different moral foundations. But they are all organized over the same two fundamental goals: is this harming or is this benefiting? When it gets crossed with our social nature, it becomes morals. Morality only exists in the social world. We're responding to the environment by these environmental threats. Big picture: harm + benefits, all focused on prioritizing yourself or somebody else? Who do we put first, rest is what is our goal?

Why is "good"?

What can Empathy mean? It gets a lot of different meanings attached to it.

Emotional Contagion Perspective-taking Empathic Concern

most basic

often not prosocial

other as moral patient


not always accurate

sometimes prosocial

self & other distinct

often prosocial*

can fuel altruistic motivation

Is "empathy" automatic or controllable?

"Yes" (Zaki, 2014)

Yes, we see both of those pieces going on.

How do people regulate "empathy"?

PT is effortful, so that's controllable. How do people regulate the automatic stuff?

Lecture 3: Jan 18, 2018

Test 1: 50 questions. 5 items per reading. 20 of 50 are reading-based. 30 are lecture based - a bit of overlap. 55 minutes-hour.

Last time: why is good? Empathy. distinctions undereneath it. Empathy - automatic or controllable? Yes. Both. People can regulate those automatized reactions.

How do people regulate? 3 strategies: Time sequence.

Why regulate empathy?

Avoidance goals and approach goals

Burris, Schrage, & Rempel (2016) -
2 studies: Men read about man coping with buddy's death. Two guys fishing on a boat, trying to swim back, buddy started fading, guy who survived was a stronger swimmer, tried to swim for both, buddy said sacrificed himself.
Reading it a paragraph at a time. Prior to every new paragraph appearing, they got a subliminal prime (something that flashed while reading) - 20ms. Decode meanings of sentences without knowing we saw a sentence.
Randomly assigned: neutral prime ("People are walking"), "girly men care (1st study)/caring is weakness (2nd study)", "real men care/caring is strength".
They completed bin sexual inventory - stereotypical masculine traits. One subscale - Instrumentality/agency - measure of "can do" masculinity. "I'm the kind of guy that can git 'er dunn."
Literature: Masculine and hyper masculine men are empathy impaired. Wondering whether if that was the case or was it the case that they were capable, but needed to be given permission - desirability. Who cares? Real men care. Will that make a difference? Yes.
Can do masculinity predicted greater empathic concern for the story. For neutral and girly men care, they functioned in the same way - masculine men, if anything, are going to be less likely to report empathy. When give them the permission-giving prime, the more masculine men say they do care. Were they bullshitting?
Another measure: ;2nd study - asked afterwards - if you were in the survivor's position, how would you deal with this in the aftermath? Negative coping - drink away sorrows or positive coping - I did the best I could, spend time with friends, be grateful.
And it predicted positive coping. "Real men care" -> "can do masculinity" -> empathic concern -> positive coping. Positive emotions make us more receptive to positive coping. Predicting positive coping - then that suggests that they were really feeling.
Approach motive - desiribility - if they think that empathic concern is a positive characteristic, and makes them more of a man, then they're willing to open up and do that.
They're not empathy impaired, they're empathy constrained.
Got this with a 20ms prime - a message they could not consciously report having read. Turned them into Dove men.
Massive message of men - it's not about ability, it's about permission. Men being able to understand that this is congruent with a masculine identity. That caring can be an expression of strength, not an expression of weakness.
Traditional feminitinity - emotion focus - more empathic people, primes didn't matter. they were already doing it.

Another possible cost: "Empathy" can be immoral?!

Bloom(2017): the ##identifiable victim effect## - possibility that empathy can be immoral. Empathy works like a spotlight. Particularistic focus. When empathy is switched on, you have one particular target in mind and that individual is lit up. Everything else is in the outer darkenss and can go to hell, for all we care. he gives a number of worse case examples. There are limits to it. It can set up immoral-seeming outcomes

Is there a workaround?

  1. First, develop a rational action plan. Think in terms of cost-benefit, moral principles.
  2. Then, switch on empathy.

(really..?) It's a bit unrealistic. It assumes we're self-aware. Looks good on paper. Probably a lot more difficult to manage in that respect. In part because of our automaticity. If we are hardwired to experience empathy, then already it's taking effort to shut it down.

An alternative emotion: ##Elevation## (Haidt, 2003; Thomson & Siegel, 2017)

The other end of disgust. What's our reaction if we see people doing stuff morally awesome? Elevation is the opposite of "moral disgust". ##Meta-empathy## - you're observing empathy in someone else.

Translates to behaviour. Induce elevation state, helping opportunity. Pretty encouraging. Powerful thing.

How does it work? Mechanisms:

Individual differences: People that are more likely to seek out/receptive to elevation experiences are more likely to be moved by them. People at the low end are going to be irritated/roll their eyes. "What a shmuck." "What a waste of time and energy." People who are not open to elevation experiences, they're not going to have the experience. Some people seek out elevation experiences - Animal rescue videos.

Evolution of Empathy

Looking at the relational context of empathy. Focus on the evolution of empathy, links to relational context. Moral dyad - relational connection.

Evolution has selected us to have these empathic processes. They exist because they are of some evolutionary value to us. Empathy exists because it promotes genetic propagation (fundamental goal). If we are going to continue on, we need genetic propagation. Reproduction is central to evolutionary theory. The primary relational unit - the family. Parents and child. Evolution of empathy has its root in the family unit. Family unit is embedded within a community - kinfolk and beyond.

Expand to ##community context##. Humans are social. We work very well together. We're vulnerable as individuals. Other species can get us. We're not big, fast, etc. You won't win unless you have a weapon. We got where we are not because of our individual skills, but because we walked together. Being socially connected is a very adaptive ability for us. If we could work together, we could protect each other, hunt in groups, coordinate our activities. If many of us, against one of them, we stand a much better chance. In the process of working together, wouldn't it be valuable if there was some prosocial process that allowed us cooperate. We're also going to compete. If working together is adaptive, we have to have mechanisms to foster it. Genetic diversity - we are aware that genetic diversity is important - a lot of different adaptive abilities. If you don't cross out beyond the family unit, negative effects. Coordinate and work together. Things go beyond the family unit out to a broader community that we connect with.

##Family Context## - we still have to recognize that the family is the basic unit that is going to nurture and care for the offspring. The community will be less invested in the succesful reproduction and nurturing of children. Reproduction isn't successful until your offspring can/do reproduce. If your offspring die before they reproduce, you still haven't done anything. This is a lengthy process. Not the case where other mammals are ready to go. This is an extensive, extended process requiring a lot of time, energy, investment. The mechanism that allows us to cooperate, needs to be more effective within our family relationships - much more of a coordinated effort. Mothers with young children have been extrememly vulnerable. They cna't leave children alone for extended amount of time. Infants are pathetic at taking care of themselves - true concept of hopeless. Hopeless and helpeless. They cannot survive on their own. "Go take care of yourself Be happy, oh, little newborn." "Can't roll over, can't get food, can't get etc. They can't do squat. Hell, they for sure can't do squats." Taking care of human babies is work. In terms of threat, harder to get away from. The fathers. It helps if don't have to do it alone. Efficient - is to have the father, because they have an investment. On average, they are heavily invested in the wellbeing of the offspring - it's their genetic material. Men can get away with cheating. Women cheating on men - wanted control on whose offspring it was - no birth control back then. If it's not yours, you're less invested in it. Fathers - first natural recourse - likely ot hang around.

##Pair Bonding context## - parent/parent - we are oriented towards forming long-term pairbonding mating relationships - on average monogamous. Much more monogamous than other species. Relationships scientists have argued that pair bonding - romantic love - is a commitment device to promote long-term pair bonding. Across child bearing time. Pair bonding is a universal human goal. If this is the case, there must be some mechanism in place to promote this. Sexual system - reproductive process - 2 things help keep men around (regular sexual activity): 1) hidden ovulation - some species give off clear signals that they're ovulating "I'm ready", human beings are not so quite dramatic, you never know. When it comes to sexual activity,it's not once amonth "Ok, we're done." - let's jsut keep trying. Nothing to say now, and not then. Ensured by regular sexual activity. For human beings, a pleasurable activity. Very rewarding. 2) Female orgasm - not that common in other species. Multiple and for longer. It's more than fun. It has strong bonding properties.
Two different sexual reward systems: 1) activates dopamine system - when we are starting to get aroused, anticipation of sexual activity. desire. 2) consumatory reward system - not just for sex. You're hungry, haven't eaten. You've got a great meal planned. You're also feeling that anticipation. That's gonna be good. I can smell it, that juicy steak. Then you eat it and you enjoy it. You sit back, relax, sigh, that was good. Release prior to orgasm and following orgasm - powerful opioids - make people feel relaxed, good, satisfied - a drug of choice.
Other thing that's released is oxytocin. Associated with trust, bonding.
Not just feeling good, it's drawing closer to the other person. Porn industry. Pornotopia version. Men spread their seed and have no responsibility. To have that be a non-bonding message, they have to be demeaning. If you read comments of a video clip and the titles " Bitch takesit up the ass" How heart warming and bonding is that? That's about to overcome that natural tendency to connect. Connect is inherent in the process, we have to actively disengage. "Pussy gets nailed." - something cruel to a cat. That's about disconnecting and you have to work overtime to do it because that's not the natural thing. One other thing going on: empathic connection. Part of the oxytocin, relationship, romantic love, pair bonding process - how effective would this be if you didn't care about each other? If you weren't invested in the other's well-being. There has to be a sense of meeting other people's needs. Promoting and preserving the well-being of the other target. Strongest mechanism: some kind of empathic system. You have to transcend yourself and care about the other persona nd there needs to be something to get you there. If you don't have that, you end up with a psychopath - they don't feel for other people, therefore they don't care about them.

##caregiver-child context## - the other parth of the family unit. The parent-child relationship is likely to be one o fthe key evolutionary foundations of empathy. ##Attachment Theory## - multiple overlapping systems. 3 systems: sexual system, caregiving system, and attachment system. Caregiving system hasn't received as much attention. If we are going to parent an infant, invest all the time and energy - it was going to happen - there's gotta be something in the parent that says "oh we gotta take care of it." They don't have the baby, toss it somewhere. Oh, offspring. I want to nurture this, until it doesn't need nurturing anymore. There should be a system that has devleoped. It's there to prime parents to care for their offspring. Evidence: mothers - breastfeeding - releases a lot of oxytocin - it compels mothers to want to connect emotionally with their children, want to nurture them.

Reading - oxytocin - for people who don't want to form a relationship with somebody, oxytocin release is associated with distancing. It cna be bonding if you feel it's not an aversive scenario. It can also amplify your pushing away. Possible: Maybe it amplifies whatever treajectory you already have - it makes what you want to do stronger. Alternative: it isn't that it isn't working, that in addition, certain people are blocking it. Oxytocin may always be a bonding hormone, it will alway screate closeness. But if people don't want closeness, that pull for closeness will lead them to resist more strongly. If I'm feeling this thing and I don't wanna feel this thing, I'm gonna shut it down. You have to work really hard to shut it down.

Testosterone among men. When men become fathers, testosterone drops. Testosterone associated with masculinity, dominance, aggression. All of this dominance/aggression which isn't useful as a parent -> testosterone levels drop because that would be helpful in this relational context. If we want fathers to get involved with their infants, don't need to push them, just give them permission - tell them it's good. Simply caring about them, everybody wins. Both for mothers and fathers, there's evidenc ethat this caregiver child context is also one in which empathic connection with a child is going to be promoted because this would benefit the survival of the child.

It goes the other direction too: Attachment system - the child bonding with the caregiver. Healthy attachment system - oriented around security. In the process, children will develop an affection and concern for their parents. Not because they need them. At 8 months, there's a strong connection. Smiling, hugging, delight. Children signal "I care about you". Empathic concern is nurtuting.

Empathic Development in Children

Number of components to the empathic concern concept:

  1. ##contagion## - alert system - setting the stage. Evolved because you're resonating with another emotional experience. mirroring it. Why do we have emotions? Emotions evolved to alert us to changes in the environment. They prepare the body for action. What is happening around you, should you run/duct/hide/be repulsed/etc? I'll activate the X system. Our emotions aren't secret. Don't only tell us somethings wrong, they alert others in our environment about a change. Contagion is a natural alert process. It physically mirrors what somebody else is experiencing. Primitive, crude mirroring - positive/negative, distressed/happy. Simple system. Because it's in something else, it sets the stage for empathy to develop.
  2. ##Emotional resonance## - experiential understanding. Psychopaths don't have this, as a result, they don't show empathic concern. they can understand what you're feeling, but they have no emotional resonance to get a handle on that. Not just a cognitive thing, something emotional. When you have a cold, imagine what it'll feel well. Difficult. To really know what it's like, you have to feel it. I may be feeling my own thing based on what you're feeling, but me feeling it is understanding.
  3. ##simple perspective taking## - We need this to take action. As a child's cognitive development takes place, they can change the nature of their perspective taking - Theory of mind - understanding that others have a mind - a learned process, develops as cognitive capabilities progress.
    "What would I feel like in your situation?" - I can imagine what I would feel like in your situation. Impuding own emotional experience. See something, and I know I would be feeling X. When it comes to someone in distress, "I know what you need, I know what would make you happy." Parent is sad. Children go get their fav stuffed animal and will give it to the parent. Aww, that's sweet. Not very effective right now. I know what makes ME feel better when I'm sad, it'll work for you too. Pets can do the same thing. Dog: head on lap, I'm here for you. A step beyond the simple contagion. Other is in need, trying to address that need in a way you think would work for you. Requires the distinction of the self and other. Have to have developed cognitively that self and other are distinct. Other is like me - a separate version but functions like me. You have to have a theory of mind - a separete entity that isn't me.
  4. ##Complex perspective taking## - shift: "What I wold feel like in yur situation if I were you." Me understanding you as a clone of me -> the other as different, distinct, and unique from you. (Hypothesis: Could be emotional intelligence). Understanding you as you. What might help me, won't necessarily help you. The child will no longer bring their stuffed toy, they know you're different. They know enough to know that you're different. As we experience our parents and caregivers/teachers/coaches/etc as separate entities, we recognize that the forms of assistance/helping somebody may vary. They as people are different, relationships are different. You have to treat different relationships differently. The target/moral patient doesn't even have to be a human being. It can be a group, planet, subhuman species, etc. Our understanding of the other as a moral patient can change as we cognitiveiylu devleop. Core principles: responsiveness - meeting the other person's needs. Being sensitive to what the other person needs. Being aware. Figuring out a way to meet that need. Most responsive person meets their need, not necessarily their want. A truly responsive parent doesn't give the child everything they want - yknow the capacity to play in the oven. They will clos ethe door and inform them "Don't do that, becaus eyou could die." I'm not paying attention to what you want, I'm paying attention to what's best fo ryou. Not enabling your habits, not supportin your antisocial behaviours. This isn't something you see in young children. Begins around a year and a half in age, develops until older - not guaranteed until ~4-5. They're experieincing something fundamental. Not: I care about you because you meet my needs.In a nurturing environment, infants will bond with their caregivers.
  5. ##empathic concern## - an integration. Combine all of them together. Motivational component driven by a bond.

Lecture 4: Jan 25, 2018

Previously: if you're talking empathic concern (the most important effect for doing good) is an integration of a number of processes. Important components: you need to feel something (contagion) - a system deisgned to alert you that ther's something happening that you should be aware of - I'm feeling what you're feeling. Psychopaths - not part of their experience. Feel along. Having a sense of caring becomes important, as does perspective taking. Trigger emotional reaction, also engage cognitive processes - complex perspective taking - not just waht you would feel like, but what you would feel like if you were the other person.

##The Crystal Globe## - sense of unifying experience. 132-134 (first reading) - the study is now The Crystal Globe. Study: suggest empathy is related to this sense of one-ness, we-ness. When we are engaged in empathic concern, there's a sense of connection - bond. Concern requires that we care about the other person. To test: mysticism literature. Mysticism is also associated with a sense of unity/oneness. Often spiritual, but don't have to be. Sense of transcending yourself and being connected outside of your own individual self. Possible for everybody, doesn't have to be interpreted in spiritual terms. The Crystal Globe - "I told the guest maser, I'd like to become a monk..." Sense of connection that something is surrounding you.
Mysticism measure before or after reading a story about someone in need. If you do it before, scores shouldn't be affected. If you do it after, there should be a greater sense of mysticism. If activates oneness, it should activate more mysticisim. Two stories: 1) Kansas City Star - grandson died in arms during driveby shooting. 2) 89 year old disabled man who crawlwed 23 hours to seek help for wife. Graphic and sad stories. If this activates empathic experience, it should also activate other times when you had that sense of oneness/connection with somebody else - hypothesis.
Results: Exposure to the needy other (story), did result in elevated mysticism scores for both men and women. Higher if completed after vs. before. The way we go about going through the world - body is separate from the sense of self, it constrains us - it suspends that boundary between our sense of self and the world - oneness/unity with the world - melting away of barriers/separation.
Evidence they were right. Empathic experience triggers other times of the oneness feel.
Increase in mysticism recall was correlated with increases in reported empathic concern - for women. Men increased in mystical experience, but didn't show an increase in empathy. You're feeling connected, but when asked, they're not (girly man study). Think the men did experience empathy, but don't want to express because associated with negative things.

1 type of connection. You have crystal globe ( ( self v other ) ). Self and other - cosmic peanut. Self and other truly becomign one. Research: distinct characteristic in romantic love - rom coms - outside world fades away - actually capturing that sense of psychological enclosure. Problem: if self and other become one, self becomes another deer caught in the headlights- - also experiencing the stress+discomfort - fine as long as it doesn't impede you helping the other person.
Alternative: ( ( self )_( other ) ). Self and other remain distinct. The perspective taking mechanism has also been activated. I am not you, but I understand what you are going through in your context. So now I'm in a position to feel a connection to you to assist you, to respond to your needs rather than my own. This is associated with altruistic love - set aside your own needs for the wellbeing of the other. Love of God. Companion love - we're in this together, we're sharing as opposed to we're one.
Ask people which captures their experience? People choose self and other distinct.

Empathic concern may have its evolution with our close relationship - that's where this developed. But like all evolutionary systems, they're not very precise - not narrowly focused. This system that developed can generalize beyond the reproductive goal that lies behind its existence. Everything takes a life on their own beyond its evolutionary purpose. ((Sexual pleasure meant to reproduce - but now, it's the opposite - independent component.)) Empathic concern can go beyond - strangers, country, enemies, non-humans - moral patients. It isn't limited to 1-to-1 - can go well beyond that.

Where is "good"?

Organize where good is.

Individual ↔ Relational ↔ Group ↔ Environment ↔
Wellbeing Type Physical ↕ 1 3 5 7
Psychological ↕ 2 4 6 8

Within each domain, there's a continuum of "good" from minimally to optimally functional. Minimally good - takes the form of "do no harm." Don't do anything bad, don't do anything wrong. Don't hurt anyone or anything. Most rudimentary form of doing good. Avoiding bad things happening. But it's not necessarily the same as doing good. Not harming is a good first step. "let thhe Christians of the world not kill each other" - absolutely minimal. To be optimal, make each others' lives better. Within this continuum, defence (prevention) - don't make things worse and acquisition (promotion) themes - make it better, make it great are evident.

  1. Physical Wellbeing x Individual Level - If you're good for yourself, what's that got to do with doing good? Avoiding suffering, avoiding pain, avoiding loss of function, avoiding injury. Kepe harm from happening to yourself. Don't take on necessary risks. Don't put yourself in harms way. Other end - do get exercise, do eat nutiritious meals, do stay clean. Doing good for yourself is important.
  2. Psychological health x Individual - avoid distress, psych harm to yourself, emotional anxierty.stresss, try not to put yourself emotionally/psychologically in harms way - neg thoughts - self blame, self hatred. Engage in a sense of things that make you feel safe, comfortable, secure, emotionally strong. ((Put your own oxygen mask on yourself before you help others - so that you are capable of transcending your own needs)) If you're not capable yourself, you can't be prosocial, can't benefit others.
  3. Relational/Interpersonal xPhysical (especially close relationships). ##Communal relationship/orientation## - relational concept in which the focus is on wanting to connect with the other person - not based on an exchange concept - I do you this, you owe me this. I don't want you to treat me as an exchange object. We're in this together. Avoid neglecting, abandoning, physical abuse/violations - how to not do harm in a relationship. Nurture, physically care for somebody, touch them -- appropriately.
  4. x Psychological Avoid rejecting, betrayal, emotional violence. Do: Love, trust, compassion, committment. Responsiveness - taking the other person's need into account.
  5. Group x Physical - avoid: being removed from community, being deprived of community-level resources - healthy food (lower income urban areas, may not be a decent supermarket), hospitals/medical care. Group access. Put things places so people can have access to them. Making sure that people in the communities get to have access to and share the resources that they need. Make resources available where they currently aren't available. If you do that, you benefit everybody. Study: people received income in certain jurisdictions - if people have enough for basic needs, all social costs go down - cheaper to give money to people - better off as a society if we take care of the most vulnerable.
  6. Group x Psychological - avoid: exclusion, prejudice, discirmination, abuse, stigma, dehumanizing, denegrading people in the group or the group itself. Do: bring peoople in, include, make them equally valued human beings, humanizing, treating with equality/fairness. If all people in group are doing well, overall group thrives.
  7. Environment x Physical - planet, non human species. Habitat desttruction, climate change, extinction. Nonhuman pays price, planet pays price, then we pay the price. Acquire: biodiversity ,clean environment - water, air, a place where a lot of things thrive and we benefit as well. ((Beijing - hotel window))
  8. Environment x Physchoologicla - Knowing that we are treating our planet well/other species well - benefit to us, especially if we form an empathic connection. Nonhuman species as moral patients - capacity of experience. Against using animals for food, in captivity, testing, sport hunting. animals in question are moral patients - capacity to suffer. Animal rights, but not plant rights. I mean, vegans go right to it. Psychologically, you do not want to have animals/planet suffer. Engage in ways to allow the various species to thrive. Coexistence. Eventually you may end up on my plate, but I want you to have a good life. Not life, but suffering.

In all domains, doing good is contingent on: Ideally, all three are present, but often not the case. Sometimes people may not do good, not because they don't want to, but they don't know what it looks like. You may know what to do, may want to do it, but you may not have the resources to do it. I'm feeling helpless, and I can't stop it. I kow what to do, yeah I could do it if I wanted to, but I don't feel like it - passively I'm just going about my life - I don't think too much - avoid thinking about it. Potentially one piece missing and good isn't going to happen.

Doing good can interact.

Different domain - Environmental Domain. Ecological Intelligence. Key ideas (from Goleman, 2010):

2. We're bad at recognizing some threats - the evolutionary system that most huamns have are really good at recognizing sudden threats coming from our environment. "I talked to dr rempel to throw an eraser at me to orchestrate it." Our system is designed well for detecting and repelling those kinds of threats. Chewy milk, warm clumpy milk, We're bad at recognizing threats that are $$invisible, ubiquitos, slow-moving$$. ((Climate change - we suck at seeing it. Jackasses in DC with a snowball "Doesn't look like global warming to me!")) Sustained effect of pollutants into our system - it happens to slowly. Toxin tests - typically doesn't reflect conditions. What's the effect of a slow drip in 20 years? Hard to do that kind of research. Industries cover up things because no good research.

3. Businesses AND consumers often "greenwash" - everything in industrial busienss are greenish. A lot pretend that they're green. Here's this one thing we do that doesn't suck, so we're gonna put that in there - "This is 10% XXX", what about 90%? Whole grain bread, BPA free - but not plastic. Consumers do this as well - "I'm green enough because I _________" - I put that can in the blue bin, leave me alone, Gad."

This sounds like a recipe for disaster. We need to think differently.

##"Radical Transparency"## builds "eco-intelligence" - flipside of those hidden costs. What if all of the hidden costs associated with being a consumer, were evident to us? ((Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) - industrial ecology - for any given product, what is the net environmental impact of that product? From extraction to manufacturing to use to disposal - until it's gone. Conception to its birth to its death and beyond. Glass jar - a team has computed all the links. 1900 supply chain links. Calculated emmissions - 300 in various domains of environment - earth, water, air.)) Some products may havve a worse LCA than other. Upside: a bad LCA reading means there's room to improve.

Why should businesses or consumers care? Must engage some combo egoistic, altruistic-social, or biospheric motives. Self, other, planet. Otherwise not gonna get any buy in there.

A few green lights - ((Coca Cola - India - drought. Protests. Plant closed. Sales of coke dropped in India. As coke talked about it, they assumed that water was there for the taking. Issue: instead of moving at local level - started exploring water issue at global level - asked for Worldwide lifefund. Asking questions about broader supply chain - how much water does it take togrow sugar cane? A lot. took lead on UN water mandate - encourage business to track water use, dig community wells, wastewater. P&G - came up with Tide coldwater - massive energy savings if you don't have to heat the water. Concentrated detergents - less - save on packaging and shipping costs - saving on resources. Reducing env footprint.)) ((Eosta organic produce ( - like Goodguide. Impact on environment, health, humans. Water use, composting farmers, carbon credits, algae compost, health. Traceable. )) ((Ray Anderson ( - carpet tile manufacturer. [The Business Case for Sustainability - Ray Anderson, Interface FLOR] - wanted his company to be 100% sustainable - passed 50% mark. ))

1 - physical disability, 3, 4 - rel' abuse, 2.

Lecture 5: Feb 1, 2018

When is "Good"?

A reasonable way to getting at it: address idea of ##Moral dilemmas##. There are at least 2 types:

CCmultiple stakeholders + zero-sum outcomesCC
multiple values
=> need to prioritize
=> rational + affective = decision

Need to prioritize among the stakeholders. Need to prioritize certain values. The issue: do you love them enough, not do you love them. Somebody could be a 9 which is high, but if someone/thing is valued as a 10, I know which one gonna win! 9 is really high, but 10 wins. It's an issue of prioritization. Which stakeholders/values are gonna win, which service primary basis for action.

Some may be reason-based, logical, deliberation, principle reasoning, and some may be "I like that" "I hate that" - affectively based. Through some combination, people will prioritize. Decision: how they prioritize.

decision <=> "real reasons" + "good reasons"

The decision will be conencted to some combination of real and good reasons. To some degree, there are rational affective inputs that effect the actual decision being made. But also, we're very good at coming up with reasons after the fact when a decision has been made. AFter the fact - good reasons, but not necessarily real reasons - justifications. The affective stuff, especially outside of our awareness, is going to fuel the good reasons, not the real reasons. If it's unconscious, how could I be aware of it? Stuff that influences our decision outside of our awareness, we're not going to have an accurate sense of that.

"Greater good": rational reasons or justify behaviour by appealing to greater good

"lesser of two evils" - who gets the grunt of it? Who gets the worst outcome? Who is it gonna hit the most?

3rd way of dealing with a moral dilemma: "self as victim":

All of these are how people make decisions.

Some examples of moral dilemmas


  1. Harm distribution - there are negative outcomes that are unavoidable. There has to beb some kind of suffering. What are the decision rules for deciding how this harm gets distributed amongst various stakeholders? The Trolley Problem - 5 people tied to track. 1 person tied to other track. Standing by the switch, I don't know why. Driverless trolley is hurdling out of control. Stay on course: slice up 5 people on track. Alternative: you move switch, divert trolley, save 5 lives and guarantee the other one will be runned over. What will you do?
    Version 2.0: automated vehicles (Bonnefon, Sharrif, Rahwan 2016) - how automated vehicles should be programmed for harm distribution programs for accidents - this is what the world has come to. Automated vehicles would improve traffic flow, etc. But there are still accidents. In some accidents, there may be unavoidable harm that will result.
    Take switch person on passenger seat - occupants of vehicle, pedestrians. If you want to fully program driverless vehicle, you gotta think this through. Should they plow over the pedestrians?
    more moral: save pedestrians, sacrifice occupant
    The more moral decision was to save pedestrians and sacrifice occupant - pedesrians didn't sign up for this, the occupant did.
    I'd buy: save occupant (ME!), sacrifice pedestrians
    It is more moral, but I wouldn't buy one like that. Moral people can, but I wouldn't. An old daffy duck cartoon - I know I'm a lass, but I'm a live lass. Generic moral dilemma: some iamgine themselves as pedistrians/occupants. When visualize themselves as inside the vehicle, different set of affective inputs - I want to be a live lass. Initial look at the issue - didn't tak einto account probability of certain outcomes, victim characteristics, legal culpibility, insurance covers, etc.
  2. "for the cause": whistleblowers = heroes? Someone in an organization, see wrongdoing and report it. They are trying to hold wrongdoers accountable. That is Julia Roberts is Erin Brokovich. Seems amazing.
    Research: Pohjanoska et al. (2017): Finnish healthcare - whistleblowers in healthcare system in Finland. What kinds of wrongdoings did you see/suspect over the course of your career? Three broad categories of wrongdoings:
    1) patient-related - varying degrees of neglect, mistreatment. Stealing from patients. Leaving patients unattended in a dirty bed. Performing wrong surgical procedures, not explaining properly procedures. Physically/psych harming patient.
    2) staff-related. Workplace bullying, substance abuse. Stealing medication, fraud, other forms of theft, stealing supplies.
    3) organization-related - efficiencies. Understaffed, minimally competent staff, save money by having bare minimum equipment, reuse medical supplies labelled as one use only. Cut costs.
    These have consequences, problematic.
    Who reports? In sample, 95% respondents to survey suspected/observed at least 1 wrongdoings - these are folks that bothered responding to the survey, not random sample. How many of those folks actually reported the wrongdoing? For those who suspected, about 1/3 reported it. Directly observed, 1/2 reported. Directly - more confident. But still, only half. People were reporting to their direct supervisors - internal report. Like 1% that went to the media.
    Consequences? Core of the issue: about half of the individuals who reported, saw no change in the organization. Open question: why? Is direct supervisor ineffective, is there collusion, a number of reasoons - don't have clear reasons. Of those who reported, about 40% reported positive consequences for themselves - mostly in the form of being privately thanked. About 45% of those who reported experienced negative consequences - criticism, bullying, discrmination, job loss.
    These employees don't exist in isolation, radiates out to their families. If whistleblowers in legal proceedings - can't talk about it to anybody - comign home in knots and can't talk about it to their families. If their jobs were lost, family has to relocate. If media became involved, people scrutinized, gossiped, yelled at by the public. Workplace bullying - creates turnover - need to train people, or people going on sickleave, who is paying for sick leave, job training, etc - everybody else is, taxpayers. These things interpenetrate one another. Should wrongdoers be held accountable? Yes, but they pay a price and those close to them also pay a price - there's the dilemma. This is what people have to prioritize in those circumstances.
    Another example: activists = "pure"? Activists - really committed to a cause - that sounds pure, man.
    Gorski & Chen (2015) - burnout among education social justice volunteers. Not people who worked for activist organizations. Not on payroll, volunteers. Considered their activism to be their life's work. Burnout - complete exhaustion. racism,sexism,oppression, etc.
    Factors that increase burnout risk: 1) within activists - what is going on within activists that might put them in burnout - a) emotional investment in cause - the very thing that moved a person to want to devote their lives to activism is the very thing that puts them at risk. The fact that they really care about this cause. b) emotional impact of awareness - suffering. Human trafficking, hate crimes, cyberbullying. You're hearing the worst things that people do to people. You need to get to get to the neety greety. Uncomfortbale details about how and why people suffer. That's exhausting. If it impacts you directly, that puts you into the bonus round. Increases vulnerability.
    Take within acitivtists within movement
    2) within movement - a) culture of martyrdom - sacrifice is expected, normative. If you talk about self-care, self-care is bad. Self-care is a symptom of privilege, distraction, self-indulgent. How dare you think about yourself when X is trying to get by? b) culture of silence - not gonna talk about the problem and we're not gonna talk about solutions. Not gonna talk about our high turnover rate, people exhausted/sick, people's relationships ending, not gonna talk about problems in people's lives.
    Manifestations of activist burnout:
    * exhaustion - long-term, chronic exhaustion. Poor nutrition, insomnia. Emotional: depressin, anxiety, panic, etc. People talk about exhaustion being contagious. People will be bitter and it will spread.
    * inefficacy - my efforts are ineffective. What I'm doing isn't having an impact. What I'm doing doesn't really matter. I signed on to try to make the world a better place, but I feel like I'm not.
    * cynicism - people started out on fire, highly committed. I'm going to be a changemaker! Then, yeah right. Framing the cause/organization/comrades as negative. Losing a sense of the cause and the people you work with.
    * lack of self-care. Lose sense of wanting to take care of themselves
    Impact beond activists themselves: * close relationships - "recovering activist".
    * the cause itself - irony. Infighting - if everyone is burned out, people are gonna start attacking each other, criticizing leadership, second guiessing. Attrition - high turnover rate - losing knowledge base, losing mentors that can help new volunteers. Reputation of the organization - supposed to be doing good, why are they treating the volunteers like crap?
    This is not inevitable, but unless specific measures are put into place, it's very very easy for this to happen. The thing about martyrs is that they die.

Lecture 6: Jan X, 2018

Lecture 7: Jan X, 2018

Lecture 8: Jan X, 2018

Lecture 9: Jan X, 2018