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Morality in the Body: From Intuitions to Moral Judgments and Prosocial Behaviour Seminar

15:00 - 16:00
30 October 2019
University of Southampton, Highfield Campus, Building 44 (Shackleton), Room 3095

For more information regarding this seminar, please telephone Sue McNally on 02380 595150 or email .

Event details

Visiting speaker seminar on behalf of the Centre of Research on Self and Identity (CRSI)

Morality is often considered to be the pinnacle of human reasoning, an ability that rests on sophisticated rational processes. However, there is an increasing recognition that like other judgments and decisions, moral considerations are shaped by intuitions, emotions and other feelings. I will review research suggesting that as one central emotion, morality draws on disgust such that others' transgressions are perceived as physically repulsive, and such feelings can causally shape moral conclusions. In addition to negative intuitions relating to disgust, and social threat more generally, on the positive side feelings of moral inspiration can have a powerful role in shaping prosocial behavior. Overall this work suggests that morality is critically influenced by bodily sensations and feelings rather than rational consideration alone.

Speaker information

Dr Simone Schnall, University of Cambridge. Dr Simone Schnall is the Director of the Cambridge Body, Mind and Behaviour Laboratory and Fellow of Jesus College. By combining insights and methods from social psychology and cognitive science her research explores how thoughts and feelings interact. She aims to understand how people make judgments and decisions about other people, and about physical properties of the world. For example, Schnall's research has examined the role of bodily influences in the context of, first, moral judgments and behaviours, and second, perceptions of the spatial environment. Funding for Schnall’s research has been provided by grants from the Economic and Social Research Council (UK), the National Science Foundation (USA), National Institute of Mental Health (USA), and private foundations. Schnall previously served as Associate Editor for Social Psychological and Personality Science and is a Consulting Editor for Perspectives on Psychological Science. Current research topics include judgments and decisions in moral and legal contexts, perceptions of the physical environment, and risky behaviours in finance (e.g., risk management in banks). In general the work seeks to understand why people often think and behave in seemingly surprising ways, and how to capitalize on insights from behavioural science to encourage adaptive choices in everyday life.

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