Shane Timmons presented a poster at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society in London in July 2017 on ‘Counterfactual thoughts and judgments about morally good actions’ (Timmons & Byrne).
Mary Parkinson has published a third paper from her PhD:
Parkinson, M., & Byrne, R. M. (2017). Counterfactual and semi-factual thoughts in moral judgements about failed attempts to harm. Thinking & Reasoning, in press. The abstract of the paper is as follows:
People judge that an individual who attempts to harm someone but fails should be blamed and punished more when they imagine how things could have turned out worse, compared to when they imagine how things could have turned out the same, or when they think only about what happened. This moral counterfactual amplification effect occurs when people believe the protagonist had no reason for the attempt to harm, and not when the protagonist had a reason, as Experiment 1 shows. It occurs for intentional failed attempts to harm and also for accidental near-misses, as Experiment 2 shows, but not for failed attempts in which the harm occurs anyway by another cause, for both general judgments about the event and specific judgments about the individual’s actions, as Experiments 3 and 4 show. The implications for understanding the role of counterfactual thoughts in moral judgement are discussed.
Shane Timmons presented a poster at the 43rd annual meeting of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, at John Hopkins University in Baltimore in Maryland, US in June on ‘Moral fatigue: The effects of depleted cognitive resources on reasoning about moral actions and outcomes’ (Timmons & Byrne). The program of the meeting is available here.
Shane Timmons gave a talk at the London Reasoning Workshop in July 2017 on ‘Counterfactual and pre-factual thinking about morally elevating memories’ (Timmons & Byrne). Ruth Byrne gave a talk on ‘Counterfactual conditionals and suppression’ (Byrne & Espino). The full programme is here: LRW2017 Programme
The Australasian society for experimental psychology held its 44th annual conference at Shoal Bay on April 19th-22nd 2017. Ruth Byrne gave a talk on “Moral diminishment: the effects of imagined counterfactual and semi-factual alternatives on moral judgments” (Ruth Byrne, Mary Parkinson, Shane Timmons, & Tiago Almeida).
The Experimental Psychology Society held a meeting in Queen’s University Belfast on the 10th-12th April 2017 which hosted a symposium on Moral Reasoning and Counterfactuals:
Symposium: Moral reasoning and counterfactuals
Organiser: Ruth Byrne
2:00 Bertram F Malle (Brown University)
In blame and guilt, counterfactuals are for unintentional behaviors
2:30 Jonathan Phillips (Harvard University)
The relevance of alternative possibilities
3:30 Ruth Byrne, Mary Parkinson, Shane Timmons & Tiago Almeida
(Trinity College Dublin)
Counterfactual ‘if only’ and semifactual ‘even if’ thoughts and
4:00 Daniel A Effron and Lisa L Shu (London Business School)
Truthy lies:How counterfactual thinking can facilitate dishonesty
4:30 Teresa McCormack and Brian Uprichard (Queen’s University Belfast) Moral development and regret
Mary Parkinson has published several experiments from her PhD research in:
Parkinson, M. & Byrne, R.M.J. (2017). Moral judgments of risky choices: a moral echoing effect. Judgment & Decision Making, 12, 3, 236-252.
The abstract is as follows:
“Two experiments examined moral judgments about a decision-maker’s choices when he chose a sure-thing, 400 out of 600 people will be saved, or a risk, a two-thirds probability to save everyone and a one-thirds probability to save no-one. The results establish a moral echoing effect—a tendency to credit a decision-maker with a good outcome when the decision-maker made the typical choices of the sure-thing in a gain frame or the risk in a loss frame, and to discredit the decision-maker when there is a bad outcome and the decision-maker made the atypical choices of a risk in a gain frame or a sure-thing in a loss frame. The moral echoing effect is established in Experiment 1 (n=207) in which participants supposed the outcome would turn well or badly, and it is replicated in Experiment 2 (n=173) in which they knew it had turned out well or badly, for judgments of moral responsibility and blame or praise. The effect does not occur for judgments of cause, control, counterfactual alternatives, or emotion.”