Constructs and Measures
Edited by Bradley R. Agle, David W. Hart, Jeffery A. Thompson and Hilary M. Hendricks
Chapter 6: Moral emotions and emotional dispositions
As demonstrated by the other chapters in this book, much of the scholarship explaining moral behavior and decisions has been based on a cognitive model, especially as developed by Kohlberg. This was in direct response to a “cognition revolution” that turned researchers’ attention toward the thought processes underlying human behavior. This movement corresponded with the rise of ethics as a popular area of research. As the cognitive revolution matured in the 1980s, however, many scholars pointed out that Kohlberg and others’ focus on moral reasoning seemed to ignore the importance of moral emotions. These scholars began responding to the cognitive revolution with a complementary “affect revolution” (Tomkins, 1981). At the same time, new findings in evolutionary psychology (Pinker, 1997; Trivers, 1971) and primatology (Flack and De Waal, 2000) began to point to a set of emotions as the origin of human morality. These emotions (linked to expanding cognitive abilities) make individuals care about the welfare of others (e.g., kin altruism, including feelings of sympathy), and about cooperation, cheating, and norm-following (e.g., reciprocal altruism, including feelings of shame, gratitude, and vengeance). The increase in the number of journal articles published that address these emotions indicates that the “affect revolution” has indeed commenced. Despite a decline in journal articles on morality and moral reasoning during the 1990s, the number of articles on emotion, particularly moral emotions, has increased greatly (Haidt, 2003).
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