RUNNING HEAD: Self-‐monitoring on Domains of Morality 1
The Effects of Self-Monitoring on the Domains of Morality David Owens University of San Francisco
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Psychology research on morality has changed drastically over the past half century. Researchers constricted the domain of morality to individual development that relied heavily on cognitive reasoning and knowledge (Piaget, 1932; Tapp & Kohlberg, 1971). Specifically, Piaget and Kohlberg both advocated for a development of morality pertaining to the idea of justice and the law (Piaget, 1932; Tapp & Kohlberg, 1971). The ability to become a moral individual was closely tied to one’s understandings of the nature of law and how one could best abide by it. Kohlberg primarily was trying to understand how we can push the individual’s understanding of principled legal development (Tapp & Kohlberg, 1971). Researchers continued to find that there was more to the story of defining morality. Psychology researchers proposed alternative ways in which to define the domain of morality. Carol Gilligan advocated for care to be added to the conception of morality; specifically the way women appear to think about morality (Gilligan, 1982). Along these lines, Turiel, Hildebrandt, and Wainryb (1991) defined the moral domain as related to justice, rights and welfare. As the “caring” aspect to the conception of morality was added, so did the understanding that morality is predominantly social. Turiel and his fellow researchers (1991) were quick to point out that there were no other aspects to morality to be considered. Therefore other values such as purity, authority and loyalty were excluded from the domain of morality (Turiel, et al., 1991). In trying to find a universal way in which to define morality, personal differences got in the way, and therefore morality did not seem to fit in with the domain of social convention. Depending upon various factors (geography, culture, etc.) people could think differently on a variety of issues other than just justice, rights and welfare (Turiel, Hildebrandt, & Wainryb, 1991). Individuals appeared to place importance and relevance on issues concerning
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justice and welfare “irrespective of personal inclinations and across contexts” (Turiel et al., 1991, p. 80). Although the main conceptions of morality (justice and harm) are universal, there are still domains of morality that are left out when considering cultures around the world. According to Fiske (1992) people operate in groups based on four psychological models of social relation having to do with communal sharing (fair treatment), authority ranking (hierarchy), equality matching (reciprocity), and market pricing (another form of reciprocity / fairness). These models of sociality are much broader than the limited justice and harm conception of morality. In addition, Schweder, Much, Mahapatra, and Park (1997) found additional support for a broader moral domain than the constricted version that has predominated the research in the past. The researchers come up with the additional domains of autonomy, community and divinity as ways in which people from India explain suffering that may appear to be “meaningless” to American Westerners (Schweder et al., 1997). Therefore, certain cultures may not view certain domains as “moral,” whereas other cultures may, and in response, an alternate view of the moral domains is needed. Haidt and Graham (2007) have appeared to successfully support an all-encompassing domain of morality. Foundations of morality that appear in cultures across the world include issues related to harm/care, fairness/reciprocity, ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect and purity/sanctity. Significant empirical evidence supporting Haidt and Graham’s (2007) new vision of the domain of reality pertains to the fundamental difference between U.S. liberal and conservative populations. Among many liberals, it is clear that homosexual marriage should be legal. Evidence supports the assertion that they perceive only two foundations of morality (harm and reciprocity; two-factor individuals), think that it is harmful, and unfair to treat homosexuals
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differently by prohibiting their ability to marry whom they like. In contrast, conservative individuals are more likely to view all five foundations (five-factor individuals) as morally relevant and important (Haidt & Graham, 2007, p. 11), and therefore would see homosexual marriage as infractions against the last three foundations of morality (loyalty, authority, and purity). These latter foundations are not new to the scene of morality. Non-western cultures have expressed these moral concerns through the texts of the Old-Testament, the Koran, and Confucius. These religious documents deal with various issues of loyalty to group, respect for tradition, and keeping the self from impurities (Haidt & Graham, 2007). Are these conceptions of morality simply immature “conventional” (Kohlberg’s stages 3 and 4) forms of thought? Assuming Haidt and Graham’s (2007) thesis, that there are these five foundations of morality that are variable across all cultures, what is the driving force of why people either take all five foundations as important and relevant, or just the first two (harm/care and fairness/reciprocity)? Haidt (2007) posits under his Social Intuitionist Model (SIM) “that most moral change happens as a result of social interaction” (p. 999). Drawing from Dunbar (1996) and Richerson and Boyd (2005), Haidt (2007) continues to describe the way in which societies all around the world gossip, and how these networks of gossip help regulate the morals of the society by tracking reputations of one another. Therefore, morality appears to no longer be driven by the individual development to achieve higher levels of thought through reasoning and maturity, but rather morality may be derived from social interactions that form and shape how people ought to behave. Perhaps individuals who have advanced social skills and understanding are able to effectively persuade and be more sensitive to the relevant views of morality that people hold. Snyder (1974) created a 25-item questionnaire judged to assess the individual difference of “self-
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monitoring.” According to Snyder (1974), the “self-monitoring individual is one who, out of a concern for social appropriateness, is particularly sensitive to the expression and selfpresentation of others in social situations and uses these cues as guidelines for monitoring his own self-presentation” (p. 528). Across populations, individuals differ significantly on this characteristic. A high self-monitor, out of a concern for being desired in a community, would care very much about their own presentation. In contrast, a low self-monitor would be less sensitive to the views of others, and because they are less concerned with being desired would care less for the presentation of themselves (Snyder, 1974). Perhaps being a high self-monitor would increase susceptibility to the social cues and messages that promote and regulate moralistic judgments and actions. Through the lens of the Haidt’s (2007) SIM, it is hypothesized that individuals who are high self-monitors will reflect the moral foundation scores as a function of their community. Within a liberal community, individuals tend to hold the first two foundations of morality (harm/care and fairness/reciprocity), whereas in a conservative community, they appear to hold all five foundations as morally relevant (Haidt & Graham, 2007). The first proposed study will test the hypothesis that high self-monitors, who have a high concern for social appropriateness, will be more malleable with the moral foundations that they view as relevant depending on the community in which they reside. If this hypothesis is found to be supported it begs the question: Are high self-monitors appearing to hold the same moral foundations as their community for the sake of their reputation? Or are they truly undergoing a significant transformation in the way they view the relevant moral foundations? These questions will be addressed be in the second proposed study.
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Study 1 Methods Participants One thousand citizens of the United States will be used as participants in a survey. Half will originally be from rural, non-coastal (conservative) regions and will be currently living in a coastal urban (liberal) community. The other half will have grown up in an urban, coastal (liberal) city and will be currently living in a rural, non-coastal (conservative) region. Participants will be given the incentive of fifty dollars upon completion of the survey. Design The proposed study will assess the correlation between the participant’s scores on the revised Self-Monitoring Scale (Lennox & Wolfe, 1984) and Moral Foundations Questionnaire (Haidt, 2008). The two groups will be split based on which community they were originally from (conservative and liberal). Separate correlations will be conducted based on these two groups and whether or not high self-monitors are more malleable going from a two-factor moral foundation community to a five-factor moral foundation community or vice versa. Materials The proposed study will utilize the revised Self-Monitoring Scale (Lennox & Wolfe, 1984) as well as the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (Haidt, 2008) to survey the participants. Procedure The populations will be given each of the questionnaires as well as a wealth of other information to disguise the study’s true motives. Rather than giving the survey to groups of people all at once, the participants will take the tests at their own discretion in the comfort of their homes with a researcher present. Participants who have not spent a significant amount of
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time in either of the two communities (whether their original location or end location) will have their scores eliminated from the statistical analysis. Predicted Results Taking the perspective of Haidt’s (2007) SIM, it appears that morality serves as a way in which to connect individuals through “gossip networks.” As people come together and interact, it is inevitable that social hierarchies will form. One of the factors that determine this hierarchical rank is the individual’s reputation. We all seek to repute ourselves as fundamentally good human beings. Therefore we seek to present ourselves in a way that supports this belief, and it is only natural that some people are better than others at not only presenting themselves, but also understanding how they can present themselves correctly based on the audience they are influencing. This initial proposed study is geared to assess the relationship between malleable views on the domains of morality (via change of geographic location) and self-monitoring behavior. Is the social element of moral persuasion and cohesion a powerful enough force to change people’s reported beliefs on which domains of morality are relevant? Are high self-monitoring individuals, who originally come from a liberal (two-factor) community, more likely to align their viewpoint on the domains of morality if they live in a conservative (five-factor) community for a significant amount of time? The same question could be asked of individuals who originally come from a conservative community and currently live in a liberal community. The predicted results show that there will be a positive correlation of self-monitoring scores and alignment of relevant domains of morality based on the current location. In other words, high self-monitors are more likely to change their views upon the domains of morality by changing from a two-factor to a five-factor (or vice versa) moral relevancy standpoint. Whereas
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low self-monitors will be less influenced by their surroundings, and will consequently show a decreased alignment in their views on the domains of morality held by the local community. The need to belong to a group of people is an incredibly powerful force. Maslow (1951) asserted that it was one of the basic needs that all humans around the world must fulfill before beginning the journey to self-actualization. Additionally, we conform our attitudes and beliefs to the social norms of others so that we can be accepted by others (Maxwell, 2002). The price for not sharing the commonly shared beliefs of others is costly. People who exhibit contrasting behaviors, beliefs, and values of the majority are often treated negatively, humiliated, and even excluded by the group (Kruglanksi & Webster, 1991; Miller & Anderson, 1979). Based on past research as well as logic, the predicted results support the initial hypothesis. Social cohesion is important to human well-being, and therefore individuals who are especially attuned to the social climate of an area will more likely change their beliefs to align with the communities’ values on which domains of morality are deemed relevant. The conclusion begs the question: are these changes happening at a fundamental level within the high self-monitoring individuals? Or are these individuals putting on an act to gain the reward of community acceptance and approval?
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Study 2 Methods Participants Out of the one thousand participants that were surveyed in Study 1, a sample of one hundred will be picked for the two experimental conditions. The two groups of fifty participants will be matched for ethnic background, religion, gender, and age characteristics. All participants will be rated as “high self-monitors.” Design The study will be conducted in a controlled laboratory setting. An experimental design will be implemented to study the effect of social awareness on moral judgment pertaining to a dilemma that features a moral infraction that the participant will be tempted to commit for personal gain. The experiment will be a between-subjects design comparing the effects of moral judgment with “social awareness” and “no social awareness”. The experimental conditions will be implemented by introducing the moral dilemma and calling attention to whether or not people will know about the tempting moral infraction. Procedure The high self-monitors, who were originally two-factor participants and are now living in a five-factor community, will be asked to come into a centralized location at a time that works for them. The participants will be separated based on whether or not they are in the “social awareness” versus “no social awareness” condition. The tests will be a modified version of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (Haidt, 2008) that will include additional questions. For the “social awareness” condition, participants will be asked a question pertaining to respecting the rules of an institution (authority/respect): “If you had a test tomorrow for which
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you did not study for, and would surely fail, would you accept the answers from a friend so that you could pass the class? It is clear from your peers’ perspective that you did not study, and if you cheat they will find out.” An additional question pertaining to the issue of homosexuality (purity/sanctity) would be asked, “Would you kiss a member of the same sex for $1,000 in front of your peers?” Lastly, a question in regards to sports teams (ingroup/loyalty) will be asked, “Your boss is a fan of sports team A, whom are rivals of your favorite sports team B, and he/she invites you to a sports game at which both teams will be playing against each other. You are looking to please your boss and it appears likely that he/she will ask if you would accept a promotion at the game. Although, you know that your coworkers will be sitting near you and your boss’ seats; whom are also aware of your sports team preferences. Would you still go with your boss to the game?” All of these questions (minus the social aspect) will be asked to the second “no social awareness” group. Predicted Results & Discussion The second proposed study is aimed at understanding whether or not high self-monitoring individuals who originated in liberal (two-factor) areas are fundamentally changing their valued moral domains or if they are doing so as an act to be accepted by the conservative (five-factor) community. The results of the predicted study will shed more light on how powerful social forces are in persuading and changing the way people think about moral issues throughout daily life. There are many problems with the current research design that should be addressed. Firstly, the population is not representative of the entire world across all cultures. The study features a relatively distinct type of individual found in the United States. In addition, the moral dilemmas that the participants are judging are in need of various revisions and considerations.
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Perhaps the way that “social awareness” was implemented was not powerful enough to illicit an effect on the participant. There may be gender differences pertaining to the “sports team” and “same sex kiss” example. Perhaps the dollar amount given to kiss a member of the same sex is so high that individuals who normally would not commit such an act would do so anyway. There are additional aspects of the experiment’s design that should be examined and will hopefully be remedied in future research. Current research is significantly lacking in the area of self-monitoring characteristics and social awareness effects on moral judgments of relevant moral domains. One possible outcome is that subjects in the “social awareness” group respond negatively to all three questions regarding authority/respect, ingroup/loyalty, and purity/sanctity; while the second “no social awareness” group responds positively to all three questions. In this case, it appears that high self-monitoring subjects are conforming to the group’s beliefs in order to belong and feel accepted, but not necessarily thinking that way privately. Therefore social persuasion is not a powerful force in fundamentally changing the way people view relevant moral issues. In this outcome, high selfmonitoring subjects are eliciting the behavior of public compliance without private acceptance. According to Goffman (1959), we are all actors on the stage of life, and we act in certain ways to convince people that we are a certain standard, even when we are not that type of person. Another possible outcome is that both experimental groups (“social awareness” and “no social awareness”) respond negatively to all three questions pertaining to the three additional foundations of morality. In this case, it appears that social influence does have a significant impact on the way in which people fundamentally come to think about morality. High selfmonitors are not just putting on an act, but rather are internalizing the moralistic beliefs via a sensitive awareness of social norms. We all have a strong need to view ourselves in a positive
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light, to have high self-esteem, and to feel as if we are truly moral human beings (Aronson, 1998, 2007). It would be difficult to maintain high self-esteem as well as experience cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957). Although cognitive dissonance is more powerfully felt when we behave in ways that starkly contrast our actual beliefs (Greenwald & Ronis, 1978), we still feel the need to alleviate our internal opposing opinions (Brehm & Cohen, 1962). Therefore, participants in the study expressed the coherent judgment of the relevant domains of morality, and they appear to have changed these judgments through internalization of social norms as a cause of their heightened social awareness. There is a clear gap in the research concerning how powerful social forces are on our moral judgments. The psychological description of what constitutes as moral has broadened significantly over the past few decades. People all across the world do not necessarily view the same domains of morality as being important and relevant (Haidt & Graham, 2007). The differences are apparent even within the United States between conservatives and liberals. In order for Haidt’s (2007) SIM to be strengthened, it is important to understand the strength of the social persuasion and adaptation of judgments changing from either a two-factor to five-factor community or vice versa. Once research has been conducted regarding U.S. citizens, the next step is to understand how social influence plays out in other cultures and societies around the world. The proposed studies are a step in the right direction in terms of solidifying Haidt’s and other researcher’s theories on how morality works within human civilizations.
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Published on May 22, 2013
Published on May 22, 2013
A research proposal in inquiring into the modern day conceptions of what constitutes moral development within human civilizations; drawing h...