One strand of our work examines the structure and function of factors such as morality, trust, and emotion on social interaction and decision making. A second strand considers the drivers of social perception and, in particular, how social identity, attitudes and categorisations impact our judgement of, and interactions with, others. A final strand examines the impact of nonconscious processes, such as goal striving and cognitive load, on our actions. We continuously seek to address societal challenges within our research, both at the individual and group level. For example, our research on attitudes toward people with intellectual disabilities seeks to improve the way in which these individuals are supported in social and health care settings. Our research on trust within high-risk industries seeks to improve the capacity of management to communicate safety-related issues to employees effectively. We also carry out research on cross-cultural sense-making, which seeks to help law enforcement identify ways to build cooperation with those who might otherwise be antagonistic or mistrustful.
Moral Cognition and Behaviour Laboratory
Dr Neil McLatchie, Dr Jared Piazza, Dr Lara Warmelink, Dr Stacey Conchie
Our group investigates topics in the area of moral psychology, ethics, prosocial behaviour, deception, and social cognition. Broadly speaking, we are interested in better understanding the nature of moral judgment, how people decide what is right and wrong, the social conditions that lead people to act immorally, and the motivations promoting cooperation and trust. Our lab consists of undergraduate and postgraduate researchers and is led by a team of full-time researchers.
Some of the research topics we have pursued or are currently pursuing include:
- Under what conditions are people likely to justify the use of harm?
- How can we foster trust and lower perceptions of risk within organisations?
- Are there reliable cues to deception? Do people utilise the right cues? Is lying about your intentions different from lying about other topics?
- Does feeling guilty motivate people to make amends and repair their relationships?
- Do people treat moral beliefs (e.g., "It's wrong to steal") as objective facts?
- How do people conceptualise and identify moral virtues in others? How do different virtues impact on our impressions of people?
- Is moral character a fundamental dimension of social cognition? Do we care more about a person's character than we do about their intelligence?
- How do theists and nontheists differ in their moral orientations? Why are theists sceptical of utilitarian solutions to moral dilemmas?
- Which characteristics of an agent do people perceive as relevant to conferring moral standing? How do people reconcile their love of animals with their motivations to eat meat?
- How does exposure to violence through media influence violent behaviour and our reactions to violent events?
- Does disgust have a causal role in moral judgment? How does disgust differ from anger? Is there such thing as moral disgust?
We have a number of on-going projects. If you are interested in these sorts of topics and would like to gain lab experience or would like to collaborate with our group, please do not hesitate to contact us Dr Neil McLatchie.