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.”
Mary Parkinson has published some of the experiments from her PhD:
Parkinson, M., & Byrne, R. M. (2017). Judgments of Moral Responsibility and Wrongness for Intentional and Accidental Harm and Purity Violations. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, in press.
The abstract is as follows:
‘Two experiments examine whether people reason differently about intentional and accidental violations in the moral domains of harm and purity, by examining moral responsibility and wrongness judgments for violations that affect others or the self. The first experiment shows that intentional violations are judged to be worse than accidental ones, regardless of whether they are harm or purity violations—for example, Sam poisons his colleague versus Sam eats his dog, when participants judge how morally responsible was Sam for what he did, or how morally wrong was what Sam did. The second experiment shows that violations of others are judged to be worse than violations of the self, regardless of whether they are harm or purity violations, when their content and context is matched—for example, on a tropical holiday Sam orders poisonous starfruit for dinner for his friend, or for himself, versus on a tropical holiday Sam orders dog meat for dinner for his friend, or for himself. Moral reasoning is influenced by whether the violation was intentional or accidental, and whether its target was the self or another person, rather than by the moral domain, such as harm or purity.’
Marta Couto has published some of the experiments she carried out for her PhD:
Couto, M., Quelhas, A. C., & Byrne, R. M. (2017). Advice conditionals about tips and warnings: interpretations and inferences. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, in press.
The abstract is as follows:
‘Two experiments examine how people interpret and reason about advice conditionals, such as tips, e.g., ‘if you study more your grades will improve’, and warnings, e.g., ‘if you stop exercising you will gain weight’. Experiment 1 showed that when participants reason about whether a tip or warning could be true in different situations, their judgments correspond to a biconditional or conditional interpretation on about half of all trials, but to an enabling or tautology interpretation on many others. Experiment 2 showed that participants make few modus ponens and tollens inferences from tips and warnings, and more modus ponens inferences from tips than warnings. The implications for alternative theories are discussed.’