Breadcrumbs

Evaluating the morality of actions found to be culturally universal

21 April 2022

Professor Taciano Milfont

Do people from distinct cultural groups use similar strategies when faced with moral judgements?

Past research indicates that when judging the morality of harmful actions, people are sensitive to both the intention of the actor and whether physical force was applied by the actor.

To illustrate, when making judgements regarding sacrificing one person in order to save more individuals, people are less likely to judge this decision as morally acceptable when they had to use their personal force to kill the person and the death of this person was required to save more individuals.

However, so far most past research was conducted in samples from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic (or the so-called WEIRD) societies, which limits the ability to generalise the findings culturally.

Would similar findings be observed in other cultural contexts?

Professor Taciano Milfont from the University of Waikato joined an international team of researchers who collected data from 27,502 participants in 45 countries to answer this question.

The study published recently in the prestigious Nature Human Behaviour provides strong evidence that both intention and physical force influence how we evaluate the morality of actions.

Further tests conducted by the researchers confirmed that moral judgements were comparable across the samples investigated, indicating that cultural variation was not observed in responses to the moral dilemma investigated. This is the first large study indicating that the way we evaluate the morality of actions might be culturally universal.

The 260+ authors project was led by Bence Bago, a Research Fellow at the Toulouse School of Economics in France, and Professor Milfont was one of the researchers collecting New Zealand data.


Latest stories

Related stories

‘If only they made better life choices’ – how simplistic explanations of poverty and food insecurity miss the mark

The way we perceive poverty, hunger and household food insecurity is shaped by media, government…

University of Waikato hosts inaugural Donor Day in Tauranga

The University of Waikato Foundation – Te Pou Taunaki held its inaugural Donor Day at…

New era of opera training launched in New Zealand at Waikato University

An opera studio focused on career readiness for talented young New Zealand singers has been…

Do you believe in luck?

New research reveals culture plays a major part in whether people believe in luck and…

Tauranga campus celebrates University graduation

There were cheers and tears when 222 people graduated at the University of Waikato’s Tauranga…

Research into Great White Sharks in Bay of Plenty set to begin

A new project bringing together local iwi, marine ecologists, fisheries scientists and shark experts will…

Full law degree launched in Tauranga

Te Piringa Faculty of law is delighted to announce the full suite of Law qualifications…

Tauranga teaching student wins adult learner award

Covid-19 gave Jasmine Campbell (Ngāpuhi) the push she needed to change careers and enrol at…

It’s a problem when philosophers of human enhancement follow the money

Nootropics — drugs that purport to enhance cognitive functions — have come to the Amazon…

Fish farming licence adds depth to research

Large-scale research into a wide variety of algae is a step closer for Aotearoa’s first…

Worth waiting for – Kirstin Chavez comes to the Waikato

When internationally acclaimed mezzo soprano Kirstin Chavez takes the stage at the GAPA tomorrow, the…

Three new professors announced

University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor, Professor Neil Quigley has today shared the appointment of some distinguished…