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What are the personality correlates of moral outrage?

What are the personality correlates of moral outrage?

It seems surprisingly hard to pin down what moral outrage actually involves. It's easier to say what it isn't:

However, moral outrage-anger at the violation of a moral standard-should be distinguished from personal anger at being harmed and empathic anger at seeing another for whom one cares harmed. Across a preliminary experiment and a main experiment, both designed to manipulate the appraisal conditions for these three forms of anger, we found evidence of personal anger and empathic anger, but little evidence of moral outrage.

My question is basically: what is known about personality correlates of moral outrage? Below are some musings of my own:

I'm guessing some level of extroversion might be needed to express it, but it might even depend on how that outrage is expressed, e.g. online or in a rally or face-to-face etc.

It's even less clear to me what would correlate (personality wise) with just feeling such an outrage (keeping in mind the non-trivial distinctions from the quote). Possibly the close-mindedness from Big Five (opposite of openness) plays a role, but it's unclear to me if it's universally relevant. E.g. outrage at bigotry could have the exact opposite personality correlates to outrage at unconventional behavior. Maybe the humility/honesty in the HEXACO model has some correlation as well, e.g. with outrage at theft of aggrandisement.

And apparently I'm not the only one to think something like that:

outrage is driven by differing conceptions of what is just. For example, a recent Super Bowl ad featuring a Latino mother and young daughter making the long journey from Mexico to the United States - only to be confronted by a border wall - elicited very different responses of outrage. That's because those who see the exclusion of immigrants as unjust and those who see maintaining a strict border as justified share a common desire to promote what they see as moral.

So, maybe I'm wrong to assume there are any universal correlates in the current personality models. If that's the case, are there more specific personality facets proposed for correlating with "moral outrage"? Something like a strong sense of having a "moral compass"?

From the previous link:

Our work highlights a third motive that is based on people's desire to view themselves as morally upright people. Threats to one's moral self-image have been shown to elicit unpleasant feelings of guilt that can motivate efforts to restore a positive view of oneself. This is commonly expressed by issuing an apology or making amends.

So maybe feeling moral outrage is actually related to Neuroticism? That seems a bit simplistic to me.


Linda J. Skitka, Ph.D.

One characteristic of research coming out of the Skitka lab, is that our research is often designed to test hypotheses in the context of real-world events (the &ldquowild&rdquo). Although committed to laboratory research and experiments, we strive to also be alert for opportunities to test hypotheses in the context of real-world events. Sometimes this means taking real-world events and using them as stimulus materials in lab studies (e.g., Morgan, Mullen, & Skitka, 2010). Other times, this means we measure people&rsquos reactions to real world events as they unfold (e.g., Skitka, Bauman, & Lytle, 2009 Skitka & Mullen, 2002). Some representative abstracts of research that takes this approach are provided below.

Skitka, L. J., Hanson, B. E., & Wisneski, D. C. (2017). Utopian hopes or dystopian fears? Exploring the motivational underpinnings of moralized political engagement. Personality and Social Psychological Bulletin, 43, 177 &ndash 190 .

People are more likely to become politically engaged (e.g., vote, engage in activism) when issues are associated with strong
moral convictions. The goal of this research was to understand the underlying motivations that lead to this well-replicated
effect. Specifically, to what extent is moralized political engagement motivated by proscriptive concerns (e.g., perceived
harms, anticipated regret), prescriptive concerns (e.g., perceived benefits, anticipated pride), or some combination of these
processes? And are the motivational pathways between moral conviction and political engagement the same or different for
liberals and conservatives? Two studies (combined N = 2,069) found that regardless of political orientation, the association
between moral conviction and political engagement was mediated by the perceived benefits of preferred but not the perceived
harms of non-preferred policy outcomes, and by both anticipated pride and regret, findings that replicated in two contexts:
legalizing same-sex marriage and allowing concealed weapons on college campuses.

Gollwitzer, M., Skitka, L, J., Wisneski, D., Sjöström, A., Liberman, P., Nazir, S. J., & Bushman, B. J. (2014). Vicarious revenge and the death of Osama bin Laden. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. DOI: 10.1177/0146167214521466

Three hypotheses were derived from research on vicarious revenge and tested in the context of the assassination of Osama bin Laden in 2011. In line with the notion that revenge aims at delivering a message (the &ldquomessage hypothesis&rdquo), Study 1 shows that Americans&rsquo vengeful desires in the aftermath of E9/11 predicted a sense of justice achieved after bin Laden&rsquos death, and that this effect was mediated by perceptions that his assassination sent a message to the perpetrators to not &ldquomess&rdquo with the United States. In line with the &ldquoblood lust hypothesis,&rdquo his assassination also sparked a desire to take further revenge and to continue the &ldquowar on terror.&rdquo Finally, in line with the &ldquointent hypothesis,&rdquo Study 2 shows that Americans (but not Pakistanis or Germans) considered the fact that bin Laden was killed intentionally more satisfactory than the possibility of bin Laden being killed accidentally (e.g., in an airplane crash).

Reifen Tagar, M., Morgan, G. S., Skitka, L., & Halperin, E. (2013). When ideology matters: Moral conviction and the association between ideology and policy preferences in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. European Journal of Social Psychology. DOI: 10.1002/ejsp.1993.

Do people&rsquo s policy preferences toward outgroups in intractable conflict consistently correspond with political ideology? To what extent are policy-related cleavages between the political right and left in such contexts fueled by moral conviction and emotions? Analyses of a survey of Jewish-Israelis (N=119) conducted immediately after a war between Israelis and Palestinians revealed little to no ideological differences in acceptance of &ldquo collateral damage,&rdquo support for retribution, or support for compromise when positions about the Israeli&ndash Palestinian conflict were devoid of moral fervor. Those on the left and right endorsed polarized policy preferences only when their positions about the conflict were held with moral conviction. Presence or absence of guilt about harm to Palestinians mediated the effects of moral conviction on policy preferences in this context.

Aramovich, N.P., Lytle, B.L. & Skitka, L.J. (2012). Opposing torture: Moral conviction and resistance to majority influence. Social Influence, 1, 21 - 34 .

Even though nearly every society and moral system condemns the use of torture, and despite recent outrage about abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, over half of Americans support the use of torture when interrogating suspected terrorists. Moreover, public support for the use of torture is increasing (Sidoti, 2009). The present study tested the role of people&rsquos moral convictions against the use of torture in resisting conforming to a majority of peers who supported the use torture when interrogating suspected terrorists. Results from an Asch-inspired conformity paradigm indicated that after controlling for other indices of attitude strength, strength of moral conviction uniquely predicted the extent that people expressed opposition to torture both publicly and privately. Implications are discussed.

Morgan, G. S., Mullen, E., & Skitka, L. J. (2010). When values and attributions collide: Liberals' and conservatives' values motivate attributions for alleged misdeeds. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36 , 1241 &ndash 1254.

Conservatives tend to make dispositional whereas liberals make situational attributions for social problems and alleged misconduct (the &ldquoideo-attribution effect&rdquo). Three studies demonstrated a reversal of the ideo-attribution effect. Conservatives made stronger situational attributions than liberals for the behavior of Marines accused of killing Iraqi civilians (Studies 1 and 2) and police officers accused of wrongly killing a cougar running loose in a Chicago neighborhood (Study 3). Reversals of the ideo-attribution effect occurred because conservative values were more consistent with excusing the Marines&rsquo and police officers&rsquo behavior, whereas liberal values were more consistent with blaming the Marines and police officers. These results suggest that the ideo-attribution effect&mdashand attributions more generally&mdashare shaped by whether people&rsquos attributional conclusions are consistent or inconsistent with their salient values.

Crandall, C. S., Eidelman, S., Skitka, L. J., & Morgan, G. S. (2009). Status quo framing increases support for torture. Social Influence, 4 , 1 &ndash 10.

Does describing torture by America&rsquos agents as a longstanding practice&mdashpart of the status quo&mdashincrease people&rsquos acceptance of the practice? A representative sample of U.S. adults, randomly assigned to conditions in which these practices were described as new or as having been used for more than 40 years, read about the use of torture in questioning of detainees. Torture described as a longstanding practice had more support and was seen as more effective and justifiable than the same torture described as new. Characterization of practices as longstanding&mdasheven if unpopular or disgraceful&mdashenhances their support and increases their perceived justification.

Morgan, G. S., Skitka, L. J., & Wisneski, D. (2010). Moral and religious convictions and intentions to vote in the 2008 Presidential election. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 10, 307 &ndash 320.

The current research investigated whether people&rsquos issue-specific moral and religious convictions had distinct or redundant effects on their intentions to vote in the 2008 presidential election. Participants reported their levels of moral and religious conviction about the issue that they perceived as most important to the 2008 presidential election and their intentions to vote. Results indicated that stronger issue-specific moral convictions and weaker issue-specific religious convictions were associated with increased intentions to vote. In short, people&rsquos moral and religious convictions had distinct and dissimilar effects on their intentions to vote in the 2008 presidential election.
Skitka, L. J., Bauman, C. W., & Lytle, B. L. (2009). The limits of legitimacy: Moral and religious convictions as constraints on deference to authority. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 567 - 578 .
Various versions of legitimacy theory predict that a duty and obligation to obey legitimate authorities generally trumps people&rsquos personal moral and religious values. However, most research has assumed rather than measured the degree to which people have a moral or religious stake in the situations studied. This study tested compliance with and reactions to legitimate authorities in the context of a natural experiment that tracked public opinion before and after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case that challenged states&rsquo rights to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Results indicated that citizens&rsquo degree of moral conviction about the issue of physician-assisted suicide predicted post-ruling perceptions of outcome fairness, decision acceptance, and changes in perceptions of the Court&rsquos legitimacy from pre- to post-ruling. Other results revealed that the effects of religious conviction independently predicted outcome fairness and decision acceptance but not perceptions of post-ruling legitimacy.
Conway, A. R. A., Skitka, L. J., Hemmerich, J. A. & Kershaw, T. C. (2008). Flashbulb memory for September 11, 2001 . Applied Cognitive Psychology , 23, 605 &ndash 623.

The recollection of particularly salient, surprising or consequential events is often called &lsquoflashbulb memories&rsquo. We tested people&rsquos autobiographical memory for details of 11 September 2001 by gathering a large national random sample ( N = 678) of people&rsquos reports immediately following the attacks, and then by contacting them twice more, in September 2002 and August 2003. Three novel findings emerged. First, memory consistency did not vary as a function of demographic variables such as gender, geographical location, age or education. Second, memory consistency did not vary as a function of whether memory was tested before or after the 1-year anniversary of the event, suggesting that media coverage associated with the anniversary did not impact memory. Third, the conditional probability of consistent recollection in 2003 given consistent recollection in 2002 was. In contrast, the conditional probability of consistent recollection in 2003 given inconsistent recollection in 2002 was.. Finally, and in agreement with several prior studies, confidence in memory far exceeded consistency in the long term. Also, those respondents who revealed evidence for consistent flashbulb memory experienced more anxiety in response to the event, and engaged in more covert rehearsal than respondents who did not reveal evidence for consistent flashbulb memory.


Notes

See, for example, Lawrence Kohlberg The Philosophy of Moral Development: Moral Stages and the Idea of Justice (New York, 1981) Jonathan Haidt, “The Emotional Dog and Its Rational Tail: A Social Intuitionist Approach to Moral Judgment,” Psychological Review, CVIII (2001), 814–834.

Haidt and Fredrik Bjorklund, “Social Intuitionists Answer Six Questions about Moral Psychology,” in Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Moral Psychology: The Cognitive Science of Morality: Intuition and Diversity (Cambridge, Mass., 2008), II, 190.

David Dunning, “Motivated Cognition in Self and Social Thought,” in Mario Mikulincer and Phillip R. Shaver (eds.), APA Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology. I. Attitudes and Social Cognition (Washington, D.C, 2015), 778.

See Darcia Narvaez, “The Social Intuitionist Model: Some Counter-Intuitions,” in Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Moral Psychology, 233–240 Elliot Turiel, “Morality: Epistemology, Development, and Social Opposition,” in Melanie Killen and Judith G. Smetana (eds.), Handbook of Moral Development (New York, 2014), 3–22 Justin F. Landy and Edward B. Royzman, “The Moral Myopia Model: Why and How Reasoning Matters in Moral Judgment,” in Gordon Pennycook (ed.), The New Reflectionism in Cognitive Psychology: Why Reason Matters (New York, 2018), 70–92.

Charles G. Lord, Lee Ross, and Mark R. Lepper, “Biased Assimilation and Attitude Polarization: The Effects of Prior Theories on Subsequently Considered Evidence,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, XXXVII (1979), 2098–2109.

Lord, Ross, and Lepper, “Biased Assimilation,” 2098 [abstract] Anthony Bastardi, Eric L. Uhlmann, and Ross, “Wishful Thinking: Belief, Desire, and the Motivated Evaluation of Scientific Evidence,” Psychological Science, XXII (2011), 732 Thomas Gilovich, How We Know What Isn’t So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life (New York, 1991), 83–84.

For a longer list of mechanisms, see Dunning, “Motivated Cognition in Self and Social Thought”, 785–787. Peter H. Ditto, David A. Pizarro, and David Tannenbaum, “Motivated Moral Reasoning,” in Daniel M. Bartels et al. (eds.), Moral Judgment and Decision Making (San Diego, 2009), 311–312. The example of the hiring committee is pertinent in cases of moral reasoning as well. See Ditto, Pizarro, and Tannenbaum, “Motivated Moral Reasoning,” 326–331.

Ziva Kunda, Social Cognition: Making Sense of People (Cambridge, Mass., 1999), 186–187, 225 C. Sedikides and J. D. Green, “On the Self-Protective Nature of Inconsistency/Negativity Management: Using the Person Memory Paradigm to Examine Self-Referent Memory,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, LXXIX (2000), 906–922 idem, “What I don’t Recall Can’t Hurt Me: Information Negativity Versus Information Inconsistency as Determinants of Memorial Self-Defense,” Social Cognition, XXII (2004), 4–29 Green, Sedikides, and A. P. Gregg, “Forgotten but Not Gone: The Recall and Recognition of Self-Threatening Memories,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, XLIV (2008), 547–561.

This paragraph draws heavily from Dunning, “Motivated Cognition in Self and Social Thought” Haidt, “The Emotional Dog and Its Rational Tail” idem, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (New York, 2012).

For a detailed discussion of the impulse to think well of ourselves, see M. Alicke and Sedikides, “Self-Enhancement and Self-Protection: What They Are and What They Do,” European Journal of Social Psychology, XX (2009), 1–48. See also Iain A. McCormick, Frank H. Walkey, and Dianne E. Green, “Comparative Perceptions of Driver Ability—A Confirmation and Expansion,” Accident Analysis and Prevention, XVIII (1986), 205–208. Dunning, Self-Insight: Roadblocks and Detours on the Path to Knowing Thyself (New York, 2012), 6–7 idem, Judith A. Meyerowitz, and Amy D. Holzberg, “Ambiguity and Self-Evaluation: The Role of Idiosyncratic Trait Definitions in Self-Serving Assessments of Ability,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, LVII (1989), 1082 K. Patricia Cross, “Not Can But Will College Teaching Be Improved,” New Directions for Higher Education, XVII (1977), 1–15.

Michelle Moon, “The Effects of Divorce on Children: Married and Divorced Parents’ Perspectives,” Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, LII (2011), 344–349.

Leon Festinger and James M. Carlsmith, “Cognitive Consequences of Forced Compliance,” Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, LVIII (1959), 203–210. If a single statement that a boring task is interesting can affect what people actually believe (or at least assert) about an experience just a few minutes earlier, what would a lifetime of holding slaves do to a person’s ability to affirm that slavery is wrong? For slaveholders to admit that enslavement is a serious moral wrong would be to admit that they are deeply implicated in evil, which would be contrary to their desire to view themselves positively. Both affirmational and coherence motives would have strongly inclined people involved in slaveholding or slave trading to have viewed slavery as morally permissible.

Eddie Harmon-Jones and Cindy Harmon-Jones, “Cognitive Dissonance Theory: An Update with a Focus on the Action-based Model,” in James Y. Shah and Wendy L. Gardner (eds.), Handbook of Motivation Science (New York, 2008), 73, 75–76.

Melvin J. Lerner and Carolyn H. Simmons, “Observer’s Reaction to the ‘Innocent Victim’: Compassion or Rejection?” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, IV (1966), 203–210 Lerner, The Belief in a Just World: A Fundamental Delusion (New York, 1980).

Haidt, “The Emotional Dog and Its Rational Tail,” 821.

Serena Chen, David Shechter, and Shelly Chaiken, “Getting at the Truth or Getting Along: Accuracy versus Impression-Motivated Heuristic and Systematic Processing,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, LXXI (1996), 262–275.

Geoffrey L. Cohen, “Party over Policy: The Dominating Impact of Group Influence on Political Beliefs,” ibid., LXXXV (2003), 808–822.

Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (New York, 1997), 267–272 Patrick Nolan and Gerhard Lenski, Human Societies: An Introduction to Macrosociology (Boulder, 2011 orig. pub. 1970), 126 Nolan and Lenski, Human Societies, 126 Jack Goody, “Slavery in Time and Space,” in James Watson (ed.), Asian and African Systems of Slavery (New York, 1980), 25–26. For the sultan’s support of the slave trade, see British and Foreign State Papers. 1842–1843 (London, 1858), XXXI, 600, quoted in Chouki El Hamel, Black Morocco: A History of Slavery, Race, and Islam (New York, 2013), 243.

Notable factors discussed in the historical literature concern (1) slave revolts and slave resistance (2) widespread popular opposition to slavery (3) the importance of social crises related to war, revolution, and the threat of revolution (4) macro-scale economic changes and (5) the use of the antislavery cause by European imperial powers to justify their control over other peoples. For an excellent entry into this literature, see Joel Quirk, The Anti-Slavery Project: From the Slave Trade to Human Trafficking (Philadelphia, 2011), 23–112 Christopher Leslie Brown, Moral Capital: The Foundations of British Abolitionism (Chapel Hill, 2006), 3–22 for factor (1), Robin Blackburn, The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights (London, 2011), 173–273, 351–364, 411–414 idem, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 1776–1848 (London, 1988) for factor (2), Drescher, “Whose Abolition? Popular Pressure and the Ending of the British Slave Trade,” Past Present, CXLIII (1994), 136–166 idem, Abolition: A History of Slavery and Antislavery (New York, 2009) for factor (3), Blackburn, American Crucible, 2–5, 275–490 for factor (4), Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (New York, 1961), and its critiques in Drescher, Econocide: British Slavery in the Era of Abolition (Pittsburgh, 1977), 5–7, 126, 229, n. 9, n. 10 Roger Anstey, “‘Capitalism and Slavery’: A Critique,” Economic History Review, XXI (1968), 307–320. David Brion Davis defends Williams’ more general view that opposition to slavery was in the interests of important elites in Britain in “Reflections on Abolitionism and Ideological Hegemony,” American Historical Review Forum, XCII (1987), 797–812 (repr. in Thomas Bender [ed.], The Antislavery Debate: Capitalism and Abolitionism as a Problem in Historical Interpretation [Berkeley, 1992], 161–179). Also important in relation to (4) are Eric Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War (New York, 1995) John Ashworth, “Free Labor, Wage Labor, and the Slave Power: Republicanism and the Republican Party in the 1850s,” in Melvyn Stokes and Stephen Conway (eds.), The Market Revolution in America: Social, Political, and Religious Expressions, 1800–1880 (Charlottesville, 1996), 128–146 Blackburn, American Crucible, 279–281, 318–351, 368–376. For (5), see Quirk, Anti-Slavery Project, 54–112. For the importance of the widespread popular opposition to slavery that emerged in Britain and the northern United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, see, in addition to Drescher cited above, Blackburn, American Crucible, 329 and 449. The quotation contained in the paragraph to which this note is appended is from Davis, “The Perils of Doing History by Ahistorical Abstraction: A Reply to Thomas L. Haskell’s AHR Forum Reply,” in Bender (ed.), Antislavery Debate, 297 the statistics relating to the 1814 petition are from Drescher, Abolition, 229.

David Eltis, The Rise of African Slavery in the Americas (New York, 2000), 1–7, 116–117 Quirk, Anti-Slavery Project, 25–27 Brown, Moral Capital, 41–48 Quirk, The Anti-Slavery Project, 25–27, 41–43 James Walvin, England, Slaves and Freedom, 1776–1838 (Jackson, 1986), 26–27, 40 Adam Hochschild, Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves (Boston, 2005), 218–221.

Thomas Haskell, “Capitalism and the Origins of the Humanitarian Sensibility, Part 2,” in Bender (ed.), Antislavery Debate, 149 Davis, Slavery and Human Progress (New York, 1984), 156–159 Stanley L. Engerman, Slavery, Emancipation and Freedom: Comparative Perspectives (Baton Rouge, 2007), 74–76 Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (New York, 2011), 180–183 Drescher, Abolition, 113, 124 Quirk, Anti-Slavery Project, 27–29, 31–32. For a fuller, more critical discussion of the Enlightenment’s influence on abolitionism, see Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture (Ithaca, 1966), 391–445. Christian Welzel, Freedom Rising: Human Empowerment and the Quest for Emancipation (New York, 2013), musters a wealth of data to argue that the rising standard of living created by market economies and the Industrial Revolution made individual freedoms more valuable to people, thus favoring the Enlightenment ideals often identified as a contributor to antislavery movements. I’m grateful to Jonathan Haidt for introducing me to Welzel’s work.

See Roger Anstey, The Atlantic Slave Trade and British Abolition 1760–1810 (Atlantic Highlands, N.J., 1975) Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture, 291–390 Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts, and the End of Slavery (Princeton, 2003), 291–366 Walvin, Questioning Slavery (London, 1996), 163.

Pinker, Better Angels of Our Nature, 172–180 Blackburn, American Crucible, 152–159, 341–342. For a complementary treatment of sympathy, see Davis, Problem of Slavery in Western Culture, 348–364, on the rise of an ethics of benevolence.

Blackburn, American Crucible, 162–165, 221 Brown, Moral Capital, 27 Blackburn, Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 131–160. Drescher criticizes this view in Abolition, 212.

Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men Blackburn, American Crucible, 348, 368–370.

Brown, Moral Capital, 44, 42, 41 Quirk, Anti-Slavery Project, 27.

Blackburn, American Crucible, 165, 26.

Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men, 5 Blackburn, American Crucible, 26.

Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men, xxv.

For the centrality of moral conviction, see Drescher, Abolition, 212–213 Robert William Fogel, Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery (New York, 1989), 410.

For this last point, thanks go to an anonymous referee for this journal, who suggests that this possibility fits well with social domain theory.

Hochschild, Bury the Chains, 216–218 Blackburn, American Crucible, 156–159. Referring to a diagram widely circulated by abolitionists to show how slaves were tightly packed in the hold of a slave ship, Drescher writes in Abolition, “[H]alf a century after the launching of the antislavery movement, an aging citizen could recall, in 1838, how his own sense of justice was first aroused by a print of the slave ship Brookes hanging on the wall of his home” (251). See also Eltis and Nicholas Radburn, “Visualizing the Middle Passage: The Brooks and the Reality of Crowding in the Transatlantic Slave Trade,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History, XLIX (2019), 533–565 James L. Huston, “The Experiential Basis of the Northern Antislavery Impulse,” Journal of Southern History, LVI (1990), 609–640 Elizabeth B. Clark, “The Sacred Rights of the Weak: Pain, Sympathy, and the Culture of Individual Rights in Antebellum America,” Journal of American History, LXXXII (1995), 463–493.

For an extended discussion of slavery in England, see Michael Guasco, Slaves and Englishmen: Human Bondage in the Early Modern Atlantic World (Philadelphia, 2014), 27–33. Eltis, Rise of African Slavery in the Americas, 1–7 Drescher, Abolition, 4–25 Walvin, England, Slaves and Freedom, 26–45 Sue Peabody, “There Are No Slaves in France”: The Political Culture of Race and Slavery in the Ancien Regime (New York, 1996), 4 census data cited in Stark, For the Glory of God, 321 Hochschild, Bury the Chains, 2.

Quirk, Anti-Slavery Project, 44, 53 Drescher, Abolition, 139–140, 311, 317–327 James Brewer Stewart, Holy Warriors: The Abolitionists and American Slavery (New York, 1976), 87, 98, 153–154.

Hochschild, Bury the Chains, 107.

A possible challenge to this hypothesis concerns the abolitionist movements in France and the Netherlands, where slavery had largely disappeared by the early modern period. The fact that few people in France and the Netherlands owned slaves should have made these countries fertile ground for the abolitionist movement. Yet in striking contrast to Britain, abolitionist activity in France and the Netherlands was either negligible or late in arriving. For the political and religious factors that help to explain the differences in the timing and strength of abolitionist movements in Britain, France, and the Netherlands, see Maartje Janse, “‘Holland as a Little England’? British Anti-slavery Missionaries and Continental Abolitionist Movements in the Mid-Nineteenth Century,” Past Present, CCXXIX (2015), 123–160 Stark, For the Glory of God, 354–356.

Drescher, Abolition, 7 Stark, For the Glory of God, 359.

Stark, For the Glory of God, 358–359, 339.

Davis, Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 241 Blackburn, American Crucible, 6. Haskell interprets Davis in “Capitalism and the Origins of the Humanitarian Sensibility, Part 1,” in Bender (ed.), Antislavery Debate, 120–121.

Blackburn, American Crucible, 26 Stark, For the Glory of God, 291–366, esp. 339 and 365.

Deborah S. Rogers, Omkar Deshpande, and Marcus W. Feldman, “The Spread of Inequality,” PLoS One, VI (2011), e24683, available at https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0024683 Edward P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (New York, 1966) Richard H. Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (London, 1926).

Rogers, Deshpande, and Feldman, “Spread of Inequality,” 1.

Sean Wilentz, Chants Democratic: New York City the Rise of the American Working Class, 1788–1850 (New York, 1984), 96, 149, 271–274, 286.


Who Speaks Up in the Face of Uncivil Behavior?

Have you ever been out in public and seen someone do something outrageous? Maybe you witnessed someone yelling a racial slur at a stranger or physically abusing a young child in their care. All of us probably remember a time when someone&rsquos behavior violated our standards of moral decency, but only some of us can say we actively intervened. What separates those who speak up from those who stay silent?

On the one hand, you might hypothesize that people who are more aggressive or hostile by nature are more likely to openly challenge a stranger. On the other hand, speaking out against injustice could be seen in a more positive light, as an act of maturity. Emerging research supports the latter idea&mdashthat people who stand up to incivility have a strong sense of altruism, combined with self-confidence. Understanding what motivates these heroic individuals could lead to more effective ways of curbing everyday immoral behavior.

Psychologist Alexandrina Moisuc of the University of Clermont Auvergne in France and her colleagues recently published findings from three studies looking at the personality profile possessed by people who say they would intervene in the face of bad behavior. Although there has been extensive research on how situational factors can impact people&rsquos motivation to intervene (the bystander effect), there have been fewer studies looking at the role of personality.

The researchers tested two competing and equally plausible theories about who stands up: the &ldquobitter complainer&rdquo versus the &ldquowell-adjusted leader.&rdquo The &ldquobitter complainer&rdquo theory suggests that hostile, aggressive and insecure people are more likely to become vigilantes out of a desire to unleash displaced frustration onto an unsuspecting target. In contrast, the &ldquowell-adjusted leader&rdquo theory takes the view that people who intervene are more likely to be confident, stable and mature.

In an initial study, the researchers recruited 291 Austrian students to watch six short video clips online showing a person engaging in various types of uncivil behavior. For example, in one video the person was shown kicking a can of beer several times and then leaving it on the ground without picking it up. In another video a person is shown sitting on a bench and making an obscene gesture to a woman walking by. In all instances, the person in the video was depicted as a young man wearing regular, average clothes. After watching each video, participants rated the emotions they were feeling such as fear, disdain and disgust. These emotion ratings were combined to provide an overall measure of &ldquomoral outrage&rdquo for each participant. Next the participants were asked how they would have reacted if they had encountered the behavior in the video in their real lives. They rated the likelihood they would have done each of the following: had no reaction at all, given the person a disapproving look, made a loud and audible sigh, alerted an authority such as the police, made a disapproving comment not directly addressed to the person, made a polite comment to the person, or made an aggressive comment to the person. Participants also filled out a number of other questionnaires that measured various dimensions of their personalities such as altruism and self-esteem.

Overall, the findings seemed to support the &ldquowell-adjusted leader&rdquo theory rather than the &ldquobitter complainer&rdquo hypothesis. People who said they would react to the behaviors depicted in the videos felt more moral outrage (stronger feelings of anger and disgust), but they did not appear to be inherently more aggressive than other people, as measured by a personality scale. Instead, they scored higher on a measure of altruism, suggesting that their motivation to act was coming from a place of wanting to help others rather than harm the person engaging in the bad behavior.

However, before drawing firm conclusions, the researchers sought to replicate and extend their findings in two additional studies that included a more diverse sample of working adults. Participants in these studies read about a greater variety of scenarios where people engaged in uncivil or immoral acts. For example, they read about a person who left dog droppings on the sidewalk without picking them up and another where a man at a public zoo hits his three-year-old son in the face. Again, participants rated the likelihood that they would say or do something in reaction to the immoral behavior. They also filled out a number of questionnaires measuring their various personality traits. Once again, the findings showed support for the &ldquowell-adjusted leader&rdquo hypothesis: participants who reported that they would have reacted in some way to the outrageous behavior showed a number of positive personality traits including self-acceptance, social responsibility and independence. They also tended to report having better control over their emotions. Also, aggression was again unrelated to the tendency to speak up, as was empathy, self-esteem, gender and occupation. Being older and having a higher salary did correlate with intervening, suggesting that feeling more secure or confident in one&rsquos social position in society might be related to a willingness to react.

If anything, Moisuc and her colleagues seem to have found that people who stand up in the face of uncivil behaviors are the opposite of complainers. Instead they seem to possess traits that characterize upstanding citizens: a strong desire to help others, self-confidence, security in one&rsquos place in society and maturity in handling their own emotions. Other research has supported the idea that people who intervene have a more positive outlook on others. Psychologists Aneeta Rattan of London Business School and Carol Dweck of Stanford University found that people who believe that others have the capacity to change are more likely to confront prejudice.

A major limitation of this research is that it is based on people&rsquos self-reports rather than a measure of actual behavior. Perhaps future studies will look at the relationship between personality traits and people&rsquos willingness to intervene in a staged scenario. However, the results remain important for helping us understand how to promote a more civil society. After all, the willingness to openly express disapproval in the face of immorality, or even step in and try to directly intervene, is often the first and most direct path toward social change.


The Psychology of Moral Communities, Part 4 of 5: Psychological Challenges to Developing an Explicit Culture of White Identity and Interests

The foregoing has discussed psychological mechanisms underlying the power of human cultures to influence behavior and attitudes. Clearly, the wider culture of the West, now dominated by the anti-White left, poses a major obstacle to developing an explicit culture favorable to White identity and interests. In the absence of changes in the explicit culture on issues related to the legitimacy of White racial identity and interests, Whites will simply continue to retreat into implicit White communities.

There are obviously a great many obstacles to developing such a mainstream culture, the main one being opposition by elites in the media, academia, business, and political cultures. However, there are other mechanisms that have come into play which make it difficult to create such a culture.

Self-interest and the Anti-White Infrastructure

A large part of the problem is that these elites have created a very elaborate infrastructure so that, for the vast majority of individuals, economic and professional self-interest coincides with support for anti-White policies. Particularly egregious examples are individuals and companies that directly benefit from immigration via cheap labor, or companies, such as First Data Corporation, that benefit from remittances sent by immigrants to relatives in other countries.

Noteworthy examples are university presidents, many of whom earn seven-figure salaries. For example, Mary Sue Coleman earned over $1,000,000/year before resigning as president of the University of Michigan in 2014. She had been a leader in attempting to preserve racial preferences for non-Whites and in promoting the (non-existent) educational benefits of diversity.[1]

Similarly, when three White lacrosse players at Duke University were accused of raping a Black woman, faculty and administrators issued statements assuming their guilt.[2] Because the leftist political cultural of the university has become conventionalized, statements deploring the racism and sexism of the players could be counted on as good career moves, even when they turned out to be groundless. Adopting conventional views on race and ethnicity is a sine qua non for a career as a mainstream academic (particularly an administrator), a public intellectual, or in the political arena.

Consistent with the importance of self-interest in supporting explicitly White policies and politicians, a 2017 study found that high-income Whites were less likely to support politicians who strongly identify as White if they think the racial hierarchy is unstable. In other words, Whites who have the most to lose are most likely to be unwilling to “rock the boat” by provoking minorities if they think that the racial hierarchy could change because of demographic shifts.[3]

As Frank Salter has pointed out, Whites who fail to attend to the interests of their wider kinship group benefit themselves and their families at the expense of their own wider ethnic interests.[4] This is especially true for elite Whites—people whose intelligence, power, and wealth could make a very large difference in culture and politics. They are in effect sacrificing millions of ethnic kin—for example, by turning their backs on the White working class who are well known to suffer most from non-White immigration and the multicultural regime—for the benefit of themselves and their immediate family.

This is a disastrously wrongheaded choice by the standard measures of evolutionary success. However, because our evolved psychology is much more attuned to individual and family interests than to the interests of the ethnic group or race, Whites who benefit economically or professionally from adopting conventional views on race and ethnicity are unlikely to feel unease at the psychological level. Indeed, given that conventional views on race and ethnicity have been buttressed by the ideology that departures from these views indicate moral turpitude or psychopathology, such individuals are likely to feel morally righteous by signalling their support—virtue signalling within the moral community created by elite culture.

Social Learning Theory: The Consequences of NotDominating the Cultural High Ground

Although changing the structure of material benefits is doubtless critical for advancing White ethnic interests, we should also pay attention to social learning, i.e., learning by imitating models. People are prone to adopting the ideas and behavior of others who have prestige and high status, and this tendency fits well with an evolutionary perspective in which seeking high social status is a universal feature of the human mind. A critical component of the success of the culture of White dispossession is that it achieved control of the most prestigious and influential institutions of the West, particularly the media and academia. Once this culture became a consensus among the elites, it became widely accepted among Whites of very different levels of education and among people of different social classes.[5]

For example, Leslie Fiedler, a Jewish literary scholar associated with the New York Intellectuals,[6] described a whole generation of American Jewish writers (including Delmore Schwartz, Alfred Kazin, Karl Shapiro, Isaac Rosenfeld, Paul Goodman, Saul Bellow, and H. J. Kaplan) as “typically urban, second-generation Jews.” The works of these writers appeared regularly in Partisan Review, the flagship journal of the New York Intellectuals. Fiedler goes on to say that

the writer drawn to New York from the provinces feels … the Rube, attempts to conform and the almost parody of Jewishness achieved by the gentile writer in New York is a strange and crucial testimony of our time.[7]

Once Jews had achieved prestige and status in the literary world, it was only natural that non-Jews would admire and emulate them by adopting their views on race and ethnicity—views that were mainstream in the Jewish community and well to the left of most Americans.

Like other modeling influences, therefore, maladaptive memes are best promulgated by individuals and institutions with high social status. Because they have been elevated to the pantheon of elite culture, individuals such as Sigmund Freud or Stephen Jay Gould have become cultural icons—true cultural heroes. The cultural memes emanating from their thought, therefore, have a much greater opportunity to take root in the culture as a whole.

Moreover, adopting the views on race and ethnicity held by elites also confers psychological benefits because it enhances one’s reputation in the contemporary moral community created by these elites. On the other hand, publicly dissenting from these views carries huge costs for most people. White elites who turn their back on their own ethnic group are likely to be massively reinforced within the contemporary explicit culture, while those who attempt to advance White interests can expect to suffer psychologically painful costs.

There are many examples of White people who have been fired from their positions in the media or other positions of influence for expressing attitudes on race and ethnicity that depart from the conventional wisdom. On the other hand, the massive social approval University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman received within the culture of the university for her positions on diversity issues is doubtless a positive component of her job. If she suddenly reversed position on the benefits of diversity, her career as a university president and her $1,000,000+/year salary would have been in dire jeopardy.

Benefits and Risks of Conscientiousness

A psychological system that bears on moral reputation is Conscientiousness, discussed previously in connection with inhibiting our natural tendencies in the service of long-term payoffs. However, people who are high on Conscientiousness also tend to be deeply concerned about their reputation.

This is no accident. In fact, developing a good reputation is an important way for conscientious people to get long-term payoffs. Think of it this way. If someone cheats another person, he gets a short-term gain at the expense of developing a bad reputation when his cheating becomes known. The only way he can continue to survive is to prey on others who don’t know his reputation, and that means moving on and interacting with strangers—who will be less trusting—rather than with friends and allies. On the other hand, if he cooperates, both persons benefit, and he develops a reputation as a cooperator that may last a lifetime. In the long run, therefore, he will be better off.

Conscientious people, unlike sociopaths, are cooperators, and as a result they are vitally concerned about their reputation. This is particularly critical for individualists because they tend to interact more often with strangers—their reputation is first and foremost established among non-relatives who would be relatively quick (compared to relatives) to cease interacting with them if there are signs of untrustworthiness.

Theoretical work has shown that having access to people’s reputation is likely to be a necessary condition for the evolution of cooperation.[8] Information on the reputation of individuals constitutes a collective memory of the past history of individuals and is made possible by language—that is, explicit representations of the past history of individuals in cooperative situations.[9] Without such explicit information on reputation, cooperators would be at an evolutionary disadvantage and vulnerable to a strategy of short-term exploitation rather than long-term cooperation with like-minded others. This explicit information on reputation is therefore processed by the higher brain centers located in the prefrontal cortex linked to Conscientiousness.

I suggest, therefore, that evolutionary pressure for cooperation is a critical adaptive function accounting for the evolution of Conscientiousness. Psychological research shows that people high in Conscientiousness are responsible, dependable, dutiful, and reliable. Indeed, responsibility emerges as a facet (i.e., subcategory) of Conscientiousness defined as cooperative, dependable, being of service to others, and contributing to community and group projects.[10] These traits are also highly correlated with honesty and morally exemplary behavior.

Thus Conscientiousness not only makes us better able to inhibit natural impulses like ethnocentrism, it also makes us more concerned about our reputation in a moral community. We want to fit into the community and we want to be known as cooperators, not cheaters. At the low end of Conscientiousness are sociopaths (also low on Love/Nurturance). They are more likely to take advantage of people for short-term gains and care nothing about developing a reputation as honest and trustworthy. After they prey on one victim, they must move on to an area where their reputation is not known.

Obviously, Conscientiousness as defined above is a pillar of human civilization and cultural life. This is especially so in the individualistic cultures of the West given its importance in achieving a good reputation in groups of strangers.

To this set of traits, Francis Fukuyama also adds trust as a critical virtue of individualist societies.[11] It is linked to Conscientiousness because we are more likely trust people who have a good reputation—people who have the trust of others. Trust is really a way of emphasizing the importance of moral universalism as a trait of individualist societies. In collectivist, family-oriented societies, trust ends at the border of the family and the wider kinship group. Social organization, whether in political culture or in economic enterprise, tends to be a family affair. Morality is defined as what is good for the group—typically the kinship group (e.g., “Is it good for the Jews?”).

This lack of trust beyond the kinship group is the fundamental problem that prevents the development of civil societies in much of Asia and Africa, where divisions into opposing religious and ultimately kinship groups define the political landscape. People who have good jobs are expected to help their relatives, leading to high levels of corruption.[12] The movement of the West toward multiculturalism and opposing identity groups based on race and ethnicity means the end of individualist Western culture, replaced by a culture characterized by conflict between self-interested groups rather than individuals.

In individualist cultures, organizations include nonfamily members in positions of trust, and nepotism is looked on as immoral and is subject to legal sanctions. Morality is defined in terms of universal moral principles that are independent of kinship connections or group membership. Trust therefore is of critical importance to individualist society.

And fundamentally trust is about building a trustworthy reputation—for example, a reputation for honest dealing, not only with fellow kinsmen, but with others as well. It follows that European-derived people are particularly prone to being concerned with reputation. In the individualistic societies in which Westerners evolved, cooperation (and therefore success) resulted from having a good reputation, not from being able to rely on extensive kinship relations.

There are obviously great benefits to trust and the wider psychological system of Conscientiousness. The suite of traits associated with individualism is the basis of Western modernism. Relying on the good reputation of others is a key ingredient to building cooperative civil societies capable of rising above amoral familism.

The downside, however, is that conscientious people become so concerned about their reputation that they become conformists. Once the cultural and political left had won the day, a large part of its success was that it dominated the moral and intellectual high ground on issues of race and ethnicity. The culture of critique had become conventionalized and a pillar of the intellectual establishment. People who dissented from this leftist consensus were faced with a disastrous loss of reputation—nothing less than psychological agony.

There are many examples showing the power of this mechanism. Over 75 years ago Anne Morrow Lindbergh became one of the first victims of the modern version of political correctness when her husband, Charles Lindbergh, stated that Jews were one of the forces attempting to get the United States to enter World War II. Shortly after his speech, she wrote:

The storm is beginning to blow up hard. … I sense that this is the beginning of a fight and consequent loneliness and isolation that we have not known before. … For I am really much more attached to the worldly things than he is, mind more giving up friends, popularity, etc., mind much more criticism and coldness and loneliness. … Will I be able to shop in New York at all now? I am always stared at—but now to be stared at with hate, to walk through aisles of hate![13]

What is striking and perhaps counterintuitive, is that the guilt and shame remain even when she is completely satisfied at an intellectual (explicit) level that what her husband said was based on good evidence, that it was morally justifiable, and that he is a man of integrity.

I cannot explain my revulsion of feeling by logic. Is it my lack of courage to face the problem? Is it my lack of vision and seeing the thing through? Or is my intuition founded on something profound and valid? I do not know and am only very disturbed, which is upsetting for him. I have the greatest faith in him as a person—in his integrity, his courage, and his essential goodness, fairness, and kindness—his nobility really. … How then explain my profound feeling of grief about what he is doing? If what he said is the truth (and I am inclined to think it is), why was it wrong to state it?

Her reaction is involuntary and irrational—beyond the reach of logical analysis. Charles Lindbergh was exactly right in what he said, but a rational understanding of the correctness of his analysis cannot lessen the psychological trauma to his wife, who must face the hostile stares of others. The trauma is the result of the power of the Conscientiousness system in leading to loss of reputation resulting from breaching the cultural taboo against discussing Jewish influence.

I’ve had similar experiences, on a much smaller scale, resulting from attacks on me at the university where I worked.[14] As with Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s concern about going shopping in New York, the most difficult thing is dealing with loss of reputation in my face-to-face world at the university. The biggest problem is that being an academic nonconformist on race and ethnicity has huge moral overtones. If one dissents from the reigning theory of macroeconomics or the main influences on nineteenth-century French Romanticism, one may be viewed as a bit eccentric or perhaps none too smart. But one is not likely to be subjected to torrents of moral outrage.

Given that academics tend to be Conscientious types, it’s not surprising that academics are generally loath to do or say things that might endanger their reputation. This is at least ironic, because it conflicts with the image of academics as fearless seekers of truth. Unlike politicians, who must continue to curry favor with the public in order to be re-elected, and unlike media figures who have no job protection, academics with tenure have no excuse for not being willing to endure labels such as “anti-Semite” or “racist” in order to pursue their perception of the truth. Part of the job—and a large part of the rationale for tenure in the first place—is that they are supposed to be willing to take unpopular positions: to forge ahead using all that brain power and expertise to chart new territories that challenge the popular wisdom.

But that image of academia is simply not based in reality. Consider, for example, an article that appeared almost two months after the publication of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s famous essay on the Israel lobby,[15] appropriately titled “A Hot Paper Muzzles Academia.”[16]

Instead of a roiling debate, most professors not only agreed to disagree but agreed to pretend publicly that there was no disagreement at all. At Harvard and other schools, the Mearsheimer-Walt paper proved simply too hot to handle—and it revealed an academia deeply split yet lamentably afraid to engage itself on one of the hottest political issues of our time. Call it the academic Cold War: distrustful factions rendered timid by the prospect of mutually assured career destruction.

Professors refused to take a stand on the paper, either in favor or against. As one Ivy League professor noted, “A lot of [my colleagues] were more concerned about the academic politics of it, and where they should come down, in that sense.” As in 1941, discussing Jewish influence—even in a fact-based, dispassionate manner—carries huge costs.

Sadly, there is now a great deal of evidence that academics in general are careful to avoid controversy or do much of anything that will create hostility. In fact, some researchers are pointing to this fact to question whether tenure is justified. A recent survey of the attitudes of 1,004 professors at elite universities illustrates this quite clearly. Regardless of their rank, professors rated their colleagues as

reluctant to engage in activities that ran counter to the wishes of colleagues. Even tenured full professors believed [other full professors] would invoke academic freedom only “sometimes” rather than “usually” or “always” they chose confrontational options “rarely,” albeit more often than did lower ranked colleagues. … Their willingness to self-limit may be due to a desire for harmony and/or respect for the criticisms of colleagues whose opinions they value. Thus, the data did not support the depiction of Professorus Americanus as unleashed renegade.[17]

Seen in this context, the reaction to the Mearsheimer and Walt paper makes a lot of sense. As one professor noted, “People might debate it if you gave everyone a get-out-of-jail-free card and promised that afterward everyone would be friends.”[18] This intense desire to be accepted and liked by one’s colleagues is certainly understandable. Striving for a good reputation is part of our nature, especially for the conscientious among us.

Ostracism and moral condemnation from others in one’s face-to-face world trigger guilt feelings. These are automatic responses resulting ultimately from the importance of fitting into a group—i.e., they were developed over evolutionary time. This is especially so in the individualistic cultures of the West, where having a good reputation beyond the borders of the kinship group forms the basis of trust and civil society, and where having a poor reputation would have resulted in ostracism and evolutionary death.

Moreover, it’s interesting that in my experience, decisions by academic departments and committees are by consensus as is typical of egalitarian groups, as in Scandinavian culture as discussed below. Going against a consensus is thus likely to risk ostracism.

As shown by these examples, being able to rationally defend the ideas and attitudes that bring moral condemnation is not sufficient to defuse the complex negative emotions brought on by this form of ostracism. One might think that just as the prefrontal control areas can inhibit ethnocentric impulses originating in the sub-cortex, we should be able to inhibit these primitive guilt feelings. After all, the guilt feelings ultimately result from absolutely normal attitudes of ethnic identity and interests that have been delegitimized as a result of the ultimate failure of the period of ethnic defense discussed in Chapter 6—failure that eventuated in the erection of the culture of critique in America and throughout the West. It should be therapeutic to understand that many of the people who created this culture retained a strong sense of their own ethnic identity and interests. And it should help assuage guilt feelings if we understand that this culture is now propped up by people seeking material advantages and psychological approval at the expense of their own legitimate long-term ethnic interests. Given the strong Jewish influence in erecting this culture,[19] the guilt feelings are nothing more than the end result of ethnic warfare, pursued at the level of ideology and culture instead of on the battlefield.

Getting rid of guilt and shame, however, is certainly not an easy process. Psychotherapy for White people begins with an explicit understanding of the issues that allows us to act in our interests, even if we can’t entirely control the negative feelings engendered by those actions.

Evolutionary theorist Robert Trivers has proposed that the emotion of guilt is a sign to the group that a person will mend his ways and behave according to group norms in the future. Shame, on the other hand, functions as a display of submission to people higher in the dominance hierarchy.[20] From that perspective, a person who is incapable of shame or guilt even for obvious transgressions is literally a sociopath—someone who has no desire to fit into group norms. As noted above, sociopaths are at the low end of Conscientiousness, and there were doubtless strong selection pressures against sociopathy in the small groups that we evolved in, especially among the individualistic peoples of the West as noted above, White subjects in fact do score higher on Conscientiousness than other groups with the exception of East Asians. The trustworthy cooperators with excellent reputations won the day.

Cognitive Dissonance as a Force of PsychologicalInertia

Once the left had established cultural hegemony throughout the West, people were essentially socialized to see the world through the lens of a leftist worldview—i.e., a worldview in which Whites, especially White males, see themselves as past oppressors of the entire gamut of identity groups that make up coalition of the aggrieved: Blacks, Native Americans, Latinos, Jews, women, sexual non-conformists, etc. Once established, such a mindset of liberal-left beliefs is difficult to change.

Cognitive dissonance research has shown that people with strong beliefs, especially beliefs tied up with their personal identity, often do not change them when confronted by conflicting evidence.[21] Fundamentally, the brain wants to avoid conflicting ideas and often uses illogical reasoning and other mechanisms to retain a sense of psychological comfort. For example, when presented with contradictory evidence (such as data showing genetically based race differences in intelligence), people may ignore the data in order to retain a self-image as a morally righteous person. Moreover, people tend to forget evidence that conflicts with their beliefs, and they tend to accept weak arguments that fit with their world view while rejecting strong arguments and data that conflict with it. They may focus their attention not on the evidence itself but on the person presenting the evidence, impugning their motives and accepting guilt-by-association arguments. Clearly, the mind is designed to go to great lengths to avoid psychological discomfort.[22]

This poses a challenge in trying to convert White liberals and most White conservatives to accepting ideas such as that Whites have legitimate interests as a group, that race is real, and that immigration of non-Whites is a long-term disaster for Whites, etc.[23]

This is especially the case given the previously discussed mechanisms that promote inertia within the culture erected by the left. Nonconformity carries costs that can be avoided by dismissing contradictory information. And, given the control that mainstream media has over information presented to the public on race, etc., people can easily avoid information that conflicts with their world view. This explains why the leftist media corporations like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are removing such information from the internet or at least limiting its reach. And it shows how important it is to erect an explicit culture in which White identity and interests are legitimate.

[1] Mary S. Coleman, “Diversity Matters at Michigan,” University of Michigan News Service (November 8, 2006).

[2] Michael Skube, “Duke’s Recovery from a Rush to Judgment,” Los Angeles Times (December 31, 2006).

[3] Sora Jun, Brian S. Lowery, and Lucia Guillory, “Keeping Minorities Happy: Hierarchy Maintenance and Whites’ Decreased Support for Highly Identified White Politicians,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 43, no. 12 (2017): 1615–1629.

[4] Frank K. Salter, On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethny, and Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2007 orig. published in 2003 by Peter Lang, Bern, Switzerland).

[5] MacDonald, The Culture of Critique, Ch. 6.

[6] The New York Intellectuals are analyzed as a Jewish intellectual movement in The Culture of Critique Ibid.

[7] Leslie A. Fiedler, “The State of American Writing,” Partisan Review 15 (1948): 870–875, 872, 873.

[8] Lan Liu and Tong Chen, “Sustainable Cooperation Based on Reputation and Habituation in the Public Goods Game,” Biosystems 160 (2017): 33–38 Manfred Milinski, Dirk Semmann, and H-J. Krambeck, “Reputation Helps Solve the ‘Tragedy of the Commons,’” Nature 415 (2002): 424–426 Dirk Semmann, H-J. Krambeck and Manfred Milinski, “Reputation is Valuable within and outside One’s Own Social Group,” Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 57(2005): 611–616.

[9] Mojdeh Mohtashemi and Lik Mui, “Evolution of Indirect Reciprocity by Social Information: The Role of Trust and Reputation in Evolution of Altruism,” Journal of Theoretical Biology 223 (2003): 523–531.

[10] Brent W. Roberts, Oleksandr S. Chernyshenko, Stephen Stark, and Lewis S. Goldberg, “The Structure of Conscientiousness: An Empirical Investigation Based on Seven Major Personality Questionnaires,” Personnel Psychology 58 (2005): 103–139.

[11] Francis Fukuyama, Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity (New York: Free Press, 1995).

[12] Kajuju Murori, “Just Like Corruption, Nepotism Also Strains Africa’s Growth,” African Exponent (June 27, 2016).

[13] Anne Morrow Lindbergh, War Within and Without: Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980), 220–239.

[14] Kevin MacDonald, “Campaign Against Me by the Southern Poverty Law Center,” kevinmacdonald.net.

[15] John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Israel Lobby,” London Review of Books 28, no. 6 (March 23, 2006): 3–12.

[16] Eve Fairbanks, “A Hot Paper Muzzles Academia,” Los Angeles Times (May14, 2006).

[17] Stephen J. Ceci, Wendy M. Williams, and Katrin Mueller-Johnson, “Is Tenure Justified? An Experimental Study of Faculty Beliefs about Tenure, Promotion, and Academic Freedom,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29, no. 6 (2006): 553–594, 565,

[18] Fairbanks, “A Hot Paper Muzzles Academia.”

[19] MacDonald, The Culture of Critique.

[20] Robert Trivers, Social Evolution (Benjamin-Cummings, 1985).

[21] Leon Festinger, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1957).

[22] Margaret Hefferman, Willful Blindness (New York: Bloomsbury, 2012).


Toronto Laboratory for Social Neuroscience

Taylor Sparrow-Mungal is currently pursuing an Honours Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the University of Toronto at Scarborough and manages Dr. Michael Inzlicht's Toronto Laboratory for Social Neuroscience. Prior to managing the laboratory, she assisted with data collection for various studies which primarily utilized EEG technology. She has also contributed extensively to the analysis of EEG data.

Graduate Students

Advisor: Michael Inzlicht
Phone: 416-208-4868
Email

Aidan Campbell is interested in motivation. Recently, he has focused on exertion and how effort affects us and our perceptions of meaning. Specifically, does expending energy lead to more meaningful evaluations of our daily lives or particular behaviours? What are the effects of the absence of effort on human perceptions of meaning and happiness? Aidan hopes to investigate this relationship to better understands what contributes to meaningfulness and our overall well-being.

Advisor: Michael Inzlicht
Phone: 416-208-4868
Email

Greg Depow researches how people relate to and understand one another, as well as the decisions that lead people to help each other. His major interest is in how empathy manifests in everyday life. One could argue that empathy is a prerequisite for the kind of large-scale cooperation that is observed in humans. However, important questions remain about how often people have opportunities to empathize, how often they engage in empathy when faced with these opportunities, and how often they experience being the target of empathy. Furthermore, we have yet to determine the effects of empathizing on happiness, sense of purpose, prosocial behaviour, and future instances of empathizing. Greg uses experience sampling—which combines multiple and frequent survey assessments with smartphone technology—as one tool elucidate the nature of empathy in everyday life. Along with his project on empathy in everyday life, Greg also examines the degree to which people engage in costly effort to help others using tools borrowed from behavioural economics.

Advisors: Michael Inzlicht & Zindel Segal
Phone: 416-208-4826
Email

Amanda Ferguson is interested mindfulness, and the ways in which mindfulness-based therapies can influence emotion regulation and self-control. She's especially curious about the practice of acceptance - what makes an individual more or less likely to accept a state of negative emotion? Which mechanisms are involved, and how are they activated during mindfulness-based practices? Amanda is excited to study these questions throughout her graduate degree.

Advisor: Michael Inzlicht
Phone: 416-208-4826
Email

Hause Lin is exploring how we make decisions. Sometimes making decisions feels effortless other times, we struggle to decide—so how do we choose and decide when faced with multiple options? Are there neural correlates of decision conflict and uncertainty, and can these correlates tell us anything about how and when our brains choose to choose? Hause hopes to use a multi-method approach to study decision-making processes.

Advisor: Michael Inzlicht
Phone: 416-208-4826
Email

Victória Oldemburgo de Mello is interested in how moral judgments and political attitudes are influenced by external variables. How do we choose which moral values to prioritize? How do external variables influence the extent to which we cling to a certain set of moral values? Victoria is also interested in social networks and online behavior. Why are certain behaviors more common online than in person? How do online expressions of moral outrage influence our moral and political attitudes? She wants to investigate the effects of reinforcement of online behaviors in our in-person attitudes and behaviors.

THESIS STUDENTS

Melissa Agajona
Christopher Kouyoumdjian
Taylor Sparrow-Mungal

Volunteer Research Assistants

Abdul Afzal
Melissa Agajona
Karen Barboza
Kaitlin Briell
Christopher Kouyoumdjian
Etinosa Oliogu
Madina Sahar
Madunisha Sivasritharan
Tyler Sparrow-Mungal
Raymond Wu


Predicting moral outrage and religiosity with an implicit measure of moral identity

Previous research on moral identity (the use of moral values to define the self) suggests that implicit measurement of moral identity better predicts real-life moral actions than explicit measurement. We extended this work by considering the relation between explicit and implicit measures of moral identity, moral outrage, and religion. Implicit, but not explicit, moral identity predicted increases in heart rate and diastolic blood pressure in response to moral violations, whereas explicit but not implicit moral identity predicted religiosity. These results help to validate the use of implicit measurements of moral identity while also identifying a relation between moral identity and physiological reactions to moral violations.

Highlights

► We compare implicit and explicit assessments of moral identity. ► Implicit, but not explicit, moral identity predicts physiological moral outrage. ► Explicit moral identity is related to religiosity. ► Moral identity operates through dual processes.


Neural Correlates of Moral Judgment in Criminal Offenders with Sadistic Traits

Sexual sadism is a paraphilia that focuses on domination, humiliation, and infliction of pain on a victim to stimulate sexual arousal. Although extensively described in psychology and forensic sciences, less is known about whether the harmful acts committed by sexual sadists are accompanied by deficits in moral judgment. A limited amount of behavioral research suggests moral insensitivity in sexual sadists however, the neural networks underlying moral judgment in sadists have not been studied. In this pilot study, 21 incarcerated male sexual offenders with (n = 11) and without (n = 10) sexual sadism were scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while they viewed pictures that did or did not depict situations considered by most individuals to represent moral transgressions, and rated their degree of moral transgression severity. Results indicated primarily overlapping neural systems underlying moral judgment in sadists and non-sadists. However, non-sadists but not sadists showed a positive correlation between moral transgression severity ratings and activity in the anterior temporal cortex (ATC). This lack of ATC engagement in sadists might be a biomarker of altered moral judgment.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


Method

Participants

Participants were recruited from a Dutch university. They were required to be fluent Dutch speakers. We pre-registered a target sample size of 182 participants, with at least 91 men and 91 women (see https://osf.io/w8qtv/ for the pre-registration, including descriptions of an priori power analysis, and an exhaustive list of measures). Because we had a much easier time recruiting women than men, we continued enrolling women until we reached the targeted sample size of 91 men. Ultimately, 233 individuals participated in at least the first of two experimental sessions in exchange for 10 euros or course credit, and 216 individuals participated in both sessions. Given the importance of participant sex to some of the analyses, we excluded one participant who was undergoing hormonal therapy while transitioning from female to male. No other participants were excluded. The final sample consisted of 92 men and 140 women, with ages ranging from 17 to 43 (M = 21.15, SD = 3.56). With an alpha equal to .05, this sample size affords 80% power to detect bivariate relationships of r = .18. It also affords 80% power to detect differences between anger and disgust in the self- and other-conditions equivalent to dz = .19.

Procedure

Participants completed two separate sessions, one week apart. They were greeted by a research assistant, who escorted them to the study location, gathered informed consent, asked the participant to turn off his or her mobile phone, and situated the participant at a computer. Participants then read a scenario in which, while attending a house party, they entered a room in which a man was smoking a cigarette and casually flicking ashes on a pile of party attendees’ jackets, with the jacket on top of the pile badly damaged (adapted from Griskevicius et al., 2009). In the first session, participants were randomly assigned to read either aself-victim scenario in which the damaged jacket was their own or an other-victim scenario in which the damaged jacket belonged to someone else, with the participant’s jacket lying undamaged in the middle of the pile. In the second session, they read the scenario they had not read in the first session. After reading the scenario, participants reported their disgust and anger (among other emotions) and their direct and indirect aggressive sentiments toward the man described in the scenario. These measures were identical to those used in Study 4 of Molho et al. (2017), though they were presented in Dutch rather than English. This was the only manipulation in the study.

Next, participants were given a break from the computer tasks to provide physical measurements. After removing their shoes and any jacket or sweater they were wearing, their height was recorded using a tape measure affixed to a wall, and their weight measured using a digital scale. They then squeezed a Jamar hydraulic hand dynamometer twice with their left hand and twice with their right hand (to measure forearm strength) and twice with both hands in front of the chest (to measure chest strength Sell et al., 2009). If any of the two measurements differed substantially, a third measurement was taken to replace the outlier of the other two. Finally, bicep circumference was measured for each arm using a BalanceFrom tape measure. After completing the physical measures, participants were asked to stand against a white wall at a standardized distance from a camera and assume a neutral facial expression. The researcher took one full body picture and one picture framing the participant’s face.

After the physical measurements, participants returned to the computer, where they completed a series of individual differences measures, including those intended to assess anger proneness, success in conflict, and history of fighting. In the second session, participants first read the moral violation scenario they had not seen in their first session and provided emotion and aggression ratings in response to that scenario, and they again provided physical measurements and photographs. After this, they were thanked, received payment or credit, and were debriefed.

Measures

Emotion

Participants saw arrays of six faces and reported their agreement with the statement “These faces match how I felt while reading the scenario” on a 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) point scale. Separate arrays were presented for happiness, surprise, fear, sadness, anger, and disgust. Participants also selected which of the six arrays best matched their reaction to the scenario. Seventy-nine percent of participants selected either the anger or disgust array as best matching their reaction in the other condition (43.5% anger, 35.4% disgust), and 75% selected one of these two arrays in the self condition (55.5% anger and 19.8% disgust).

Aggression

Participants indicated their agreement with five statements describing directly aggressive responses (e.g., “I would insult the person described in the scenario to his face”) and five statements describing indirectly aggressive responses (e.g., “I would spread negative information about the person described in the scenario to others”) on a 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) point scale. Alpha coefficients ranged from .81 to .87 for direct and indirect aggression in the self and other conditions.

Anger Proneness

Sell and colleagues (2009) found that formidability (in men) and attractiveness (in women) related to multiple indices of proneness to conflict. Based on factor analyses of Sell and colleagues’ data, we administered 10 proneness to anger items (e.g., “I get very angry when someone makes fun of me,” α = .74), six success in conflict items (e.g., “When there’s a dispute, I usually get my way,” α = .80), and five history of fighting items (e.g., “I have physically intimidated someone who had it coming,” α = .79), each of which were measured on a 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) point scale.

Formidability

A principal component analysis was conducted on the average of the grip strength measures, the average of the chest strength measures, and the average of the bicep circumference measures. The first principal component accounted for 75% of the total variance in strength measures. Regression estimates on this component were saved and treated as formidability scores.

Attractiveness

Fifty individuals rated targets on the question “What percentage of (fe)male VU students is this person more attractive than” on an 11-point scale, with points labeled at 10 percentile intervals ranging from 0 to 100. Raters were randomly assigned to rate either full-body or face images, and to rate photographs from either the first session or the second session. All raters first rated one set of the male or female photographs, and then rated a set of photographs from the other sex. Based on low (<.10) or negative item-total correlations, four ratings were removed. Coefficient alpha for the remaining ratings were all above .84. Ratings were averaged across the two face sets (r = .85) and across the two body sets (r = .70). Because face and body ratings were also strongly correlated, r = .75, they were averaged into a single attractiveness score.

Additional measures

We also administered the HEXACO-100 (Ashton et al., 2004), the egalitarianism items of the SDO-7 (Ho et al., 2015), and the SVO slider measure (Murphy et al., 2011). We do not report analyses using these instruments here (though analyses involving SDO and SVO are described in the online supplement).


Predicting moral outrage and religiosity with an implicit measure of moral identity

Previous research on moral identity (the use of moral values to define the self) suggests that implicit measurement of moral identity better predicts real-life moral actions than explicit measurement. We extended this work by considering the relation between explicit and implicit measures of moral identity, moral outrage, and religion. Implicit, but not explicit, moral identity predicted increases in heart rate and diastolic blood pressure in response to moral violations, whereas explicit but not implicit moral identity predicted religiosity. These results help to validate the use of implicit measurements of moral identity while also identifying a relation between moral identity and physiological reactions to moral violations.

Highlights

► We compare implicit and explicit assessments of moral identity. ► Implicit, but not explicit, moral identity predicts physiological moral outrage. ► Explicit moral identity is related to religiosity. ► Moral identity operates through dual processes.


Who Speaks Up in the Face of Uncivil Behavior?

Have you ever been out in public and seen someone do something outrageous? Maybe you witnessed someone yelling a racial slur at a stranger or physically abusing a young child in their care. All of us probably remember a time when someone&rsquos behavior violated our standards of moral decency, but only some of us can say we actively intervened. What separates those who speak up from those who stay silent?

On the one hand, you might hypothesize that people who are more aggressive or hostile by nature are more likely to openly challenge a stranger. On the other hand, speaking out against injustice could be seen in a more positive light, as an act of maturity. Emerging research supports the latter idea&mdashthat people who stand up to incivility have a strong sense of altruism, combined with self-confidence. Understanding what motivates these heroic individuals could lead to more effective ways of curbing everyday immoral behavior.

Psychologist Alexandrina Moisuc of the University of Clermont Auvergne in France and her colleagues recently published findings from three studies looking at the personality profile possessed by people who say they would intervene in the face of bad behavior. Although there has been extensive research on how situational factors can impact people&rsquos motivation to intervene (the bystander effect), there have been fewer studies looking at the role of personality.

The researchers tested two competing and equally plausible theories about who stands up: the &ldquobitter complainer&rdquo versus the &ldquowell-adjusted leader.&rdquo The &ldquobitter complainer&rdquo theory suggests that hostile, aggressive and insecure people are more likely to become vigilantes out of a desire to unleash displaced frustration onto an unsuspecting target. In contrast, the &ldquowell-adjusted leader&rdquo theory takes the view that people who intervene are more likely to be confident, stable and mature.

In an initial study, the researchers recruited 291 Austrian students to watch six short video clips online showing a person engaging in various types of uncivil behavior. For example, in one video the person was shown kicking a can of beer several times and then leaving it on the ground without picking it up. In another video a person is shown sitting on a bench and making an obscene gesture to a woman walking by. In all instances, the person in the video was depicted as a young man wearing regular, average clothes. After watching each video, participants rated the emotions they were feeling such as fear, disdain and disgust. These emotion ratings were combined to provide an overall measure of &ldquomoral outrage&rdquo for each participant. Next the participants were asked how they would have reacted if they had encountered the behavior in the video in their real lives. They rated the likelihood they would have done each of the following: had no reaction at all, given the person a disapproving look, made a loud and audible sigh, alerted an authority such as the police, made a disapproving comment not directly addressed to the person, made a polite comment to the person, or made an aggressive comment to the person. Participants also filled out a number of other questionnaires that measured various dimensions of their personalities such as altruism and self-esteem.

Overall, the findings seemed to support the &ldquowell-adjusted leader&rdquo theory rather than the &ldquobitter complainer&rdquo hypothesis. People who said they would react to the behaviors depicted in the videos felt more moral outrage (stronger feelings of anger and disgust), but they did not appear to be inherently more aggressive than other people, as measured by a personality scale. Instead, they scored higher on a measure of altruism, suggesting that their motivation to act was coming from a place of wanting to help others rather than harm the person engaging in the bad behavior.

However, before drawing firm conclusions, the researchers sought to replicate and extend their findings in two additional studies that included a more diverse sample of working adults. Participants in these studies read about a greater variety of scenarios where people engaged in uncivil or immoral acts. For example, they read about a person who left dog droppings on the sidewalk without picking them up and another where a man at a public zoo hits his three-year-old son in the face. Again, participants rated the likelihood that they would say or do something in reaction to the immoral behavior. They also filled out a number of questionnaires measuring their various personality traits. Once again, the findings showed support for the &ldquowell-adjusted leader&rdquo hypothesis: participants who reported that they would have reacted in some way to the outrageous behavior showed a number of positive personality traits including self-acceptance, social responsibility and independence. They also tended to report having better control over their emotions. Also, aggression was again unrelated to the tendency to speak up, as was empathy, self-esteem, gender and occupation. Being older and having a higher salary did correlate with intervening, suggesting that feeling more secure or confident in one&rsquos social position in society might be related to a willingness to react.

If anything, Moisuc and her colleagues seem to have found that people who stand up in the face of uncivil behaviors are the opposite of complainers. Instead they seem to possess traits that characterize upstanding citizens: a strong desire to help others, self-confidence, security in one&rsquos place in society and maturity in handling their own emotions. Other research has supported the idea that people who intervene have a more positive outlook on others. Psychologists Aneeta Rattan of London Business School and Carol Dweck of Stanford University found that people who believe that others have the capacity to change are more likely to confront prejudice.

A major limitation of this research is that it is based on people&rsquos self-reports rather than a measure of actual behavior. Perhaps future studies will look at the relationship between personality traits and people&rsquos willingness to intervene in a staged scenario. However, the results remain important for helping us understand how to promote a more civil society. After all, the willingness to openly express disapproval in the face of immorality, or even step in and try to directly intervene, is often the first and most direct path toward social change.


Neural Correlates of Moral Judgment in Criminal Offenders with Sadistic Traits

Sexual sadism is a paraphilia that focuses on domination, humiliation, and infliction of pain on a victim to stimulate sexual arousal. Although extensively described in psychology and forensic sciences, less is known about whether the harmful acts committed by sexual sadists are accompanied by deficits in moral judgment. A limited amount of behavioral research suggests moral insensitivity in sexual sadists however, the neural networks underlying moral judgment in sadists have not been studied. In this pilot study, 21 incarcerated male sexual offenders with (n = 11) and without (n = 10) sexual sadism were scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while they viewed pictures that did or did not depict situations considered by most individuals to represent moral transgressions, and rated their degree of moral transgression severity. Results indicated primarily overlapping neural systems underlying moral judgment in sadists and non-sadists. However, non-sadists but not sadists showed a positive correlation between moral transgression severity ratings and activity in the anterior temporal cortex (ATC). This lack of ATC engagement in sadists might be a biomarker of altered moral judgment.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


Toronto Laboratory for Social Neuroscience

Taylor Sparrow-Mungal is currently pursuing an Honours Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the University of Toronto at Scarborough and manages Dr. Michael Inzlicht's Toronto Laboratory for Social Neuroscience. Prior to managing the laboratory, she assisted with data collection for various studies which primarily utilized EEG technology. She has also contributed extensively to the analysis of EEG data.

Graduate Students

Advisor: Michael Inzlicht
Phone: 416-208-4868
Email

Aidan Campbell is interested in motivation. Recently, he has focused on exertion and how effort affects us and our perceptions of meaning. Specifically, does expending energy lead to more meaningful evaluations of our daily lives or particular behaviours? What are the effects of the absence of effort on human perceptions of meaning and happiness? Aidan hopes to investigate this relationship to better understands what contributes to meaningfulness and our overall well-being.

Advisor: Michael Inzlicht
Phone: 416-208-4868
Email

Greg Depow researches how people relate to and understand one another, as well as the decisions that lead people to help each other. His major interest is in how empathy manifests in everyday life. One could argue that empathy is a prerequisite for the kind of large-scale cooperation that is observed in humans. However, important questions remain about how often people have opportunities to empathize, how often they engage in empathy when faced with these opportunities, and how often they experience being the target of empathy. Furthermore, we have yet to determine the effects of empathizing on happiness, sense of purpose, prosocial behaviour, and future instances of empathizing. Greg uses experience sampling—which combines multiple and frequent survey assessments with smartphone technology—as one tool elucidate the nature of empathy in everyday life. Along with his project on empathy in everyday life, Greg also examines the degree to which people engage in costly effort to help others using tools borrowed from behavioural economics.

Advisors: Michael Inzlicht & Zindel Segal
Phone: 416-208-4826
Email

Amanda Ferguson is interested mindfulness, and the ways in which mindfulness-based therapies can influence emotion regulation and self-control. She's especially curious about the practice of acceptance - what makes an individual more or less likely to accept a state of negative emotion? Which mechanisms are involved, and how are they activated during mindfulness-based practices? Amanda is excited to study these questions throughout her graduate degree.

Advisor: Michael Inzlicht
Phone: 416-208-4826
Email

Hause Lin is exploring how we make decisions. Sometimes making decisions feels effortless other times, we struggle to decide—so how do we choose and decide when faced with multiple options? Are there neural correlates of decision conflict and uncertainty, and can these correlates tell us anything about how and when our brains choose to choose? Hause hopes to use a multi-method approach to study decision-making processes.

Advisor: Michael Inzlicht
Phone: 416-208-4826
Email

Victória Oldemburgo de Mello is interested in how moral judgments and political attitudes are influenced by external variables. How do we choose which moral values to prioritize? How do external variables influence the extent to which we cling to a certain set of moral values? Victoria is also interested in social networks and online behavior. Why are certain behaviors more common online than in person? How do online expressions of moral outrage influence our moral and political attitudes? She wants to investigate the effects of reinforcement of online behaviors in our in-person attitudes and behaviors.

THESIS STUDENTS

Melissa Agajona
Christopher Kouyoumdjian
Taylor Sparrow-Mungal

Volunteer Research Assistants

Abdul Afzal
Melissa Agajona
Karen Barboza
Kaitlin Briell
Christopher Kouyoumdjian
Etinosa Oliogu
Madina Sahar
Madunisha Sivasritharan
Tyler Sparrow-Mungal
Raymond Wu


Linda J. Skitka, Ph.D.

One characteristic of research coming out of the Skitka lab, is that our research is often designed to test hypotheses in the context of real-world events (the &ldquowild&rdquo). Although committed to laboratory research and experiments, we strive to also be alert for opportunities to test hypotheses in the context of real-world events. Sometimes this means taking real-world events and using them as stimulus materials in lab studies (e.g., Morgan, Mullen, & Skitka, 2010). Other times, this means we measure people&rsquos reactions to real world events as they unfold (e.g., Skitka, Bauman, & Lytle, 2009 Skitka & Mullen, 2002). Some representative abstracts of research that takes this approach are provided below.

Skitka, L. J., Hanson, B. E., & Wisneski, D. C. (2017). Utopian hopes or dystopian fears? Exploring the motivational underpinnings of moralized political engagement. Personality and Social Psychological Bulletin, 43, 177 &ndash 190 .

People are more likely to become politically engaged (e.g., vote, engage in activism) when issues are associated with strong
moral convictions. The goal of this research was to understand the underlying motivations that lead to this well-replicated
effect. Specifically, to what extent is moralized political engagement motivated by proscriptive concerns (e.g., perceived
harms, anticipated regret), prescriptive concerns (e.g., perceived benefits, anticipated pride), or some combination of these
processes? And are the motivational pathways between moral conviction and political engagement the same or different for
liberals and conservatives? Two studies (combined N = 2,069) found that regardless of political orientation, the association
between moral conviction and political engagement was mediated by the perceived benefits of preferred but not the perceived
harms of non-preferred policy outcomes, and by both anticipated pride and regret, findings that replicated in two contexts:
legalizing same-sex marriage and allowing concealed weapons on college campuses.

Gollwitzer, M., Skitka, L, J., Wisneski, D., Sjöström, A., Liberman, P., Nazir, S. J., & Bushman, B. J. (2014). Vicarious revenge and the death of Osama bin Laden. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. DOI: 10.1177/0146167214521466

Three hypotheses were derived from research on vicarious revenge and tested in the context of the assassination of Osama bin Laden in 2011. In line with the notion that revenge aims at delivering a message (the &ldquomessage hypothesis&rdquo), Study 1 shows that Americans&rsquo vengeful desires in the aftermath of E9/11 predicted a sense of justice achieved after bin Laden&rsquos death, and that this effect was mediated by perceptions that his assassination sent a message to the perpetrators to not &ldquomess&rdquo with the United States. In line with the &ldquoblood lust hypothesis,&rdquo his assassination also sparked a desire to take further revenge and to continue the &ldquowar on terror.&rdquo Finally, in line with the &ldquointent hypothesis,&rdquo Study 2 shows that Americans (but not Pakistanis or Germans) considered the fact that bin Laden was killed intentionally more satisfactory than the possibility of bin Laden being killed accidentally (e.g., in an airplane crash).

Reifen Tagar, M., Morgan, G. S., Skitka, L., & Halperin, E. (2013). When ideology matters: Moral conviction and the association between ideology and policy preferences in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. European Journal of Social Psychology. DOI: 10.1002/ejsp.1993.

Do people&rsquo s policy preferences toward outgroups in intractable conflict consistently correspond with political ideology? To what extent are policy-related cleavages between the political right and left in such contexts fueled by moral conviction and emotions? Analyses of a survey of Jewish-Israelis (N=119) conducted immediately after a war between Israelis and Palestinians revealed little to no ideological differences in acceptance of &ldquo collateral damage,&rdquo support for retribution, or support for compromise when positions about the Israeli&ndash Palestinian conflict were devoid of moral fervor. Those on the left and right endorsed polarized policy preferences only when their positions about the conflict were held with moral conviction. Presence or absence of guilt about harm to Palestinians mediated the effects of moral conviction on policy preferences in this context.

Aramovich, N.P., Lytle, B.L. & Skitka, L.J. (2012). Opposing torture: Moral conviction and resistance to majority influence. Social Influence, 1, 21 - 34 .

Even though nearly every society and moral system condemns the use of torture, and despite recent outrage about abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, over half of Americans support the use of torture when interrogating suspected terrorists. Moreover, public support for the use of torture is increasing (Sidoti, 2009). The present study tested the role of people&rsquos moral convictions against the use of torture in resisting conforming to a majority of peers who supported the use torture when interrogating suspected terrorists. Results from an Asch-inspired conformity paradigm indicated that after controlling for other indices of attitude strength, strength of moral conviction uniquely predicted the extent that people expressed opposition to torture both publicly and privately. Implications are discussed.

Morgan, G. S., Mullen, E., & Skitka, L. J. (2010). When values and attributions collide: Liberals' and conservatives' values motivate attributions for alleged misdeeds. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36 , 1241 &ndash 1254.

Conservatives tend to make dispositional whereas liberals make situational attributions for social problems and alleged misconduct (the &ldquoideo-attribution effect&rdquo). Three studies demonstrated a reversal of the ideo-attribution effect. Conservatives made stronger situational attributions than liberals for the behavior of Marines accused of killing Iraqi civilians (Studies 1 and 2) and police officers accused of wrongly killing a cougar running loose in a Chicago neighborhood (Study 3). Reversals of the ideo-attribution effect occurred because conservative values were more consistent with excusing the Marines&rsquo and police officers&rsquo behavior, whereas liberal values were more consistent with blaming the Marines and police officers. These results suggest that the ideo-attribution effect&mdashand attributions more generally&mdashare shaped by whether people&rsquos attributional conclusions are consistent or inconsistent with their salient values.

Crandall, C. S., Eidelman, S., Skitka, L. J., & Morgan, G. S. (2009). Status quo framing increases support for torture. Social Influence, 4 , 1 &ndash 10.

Does describing torture by America&rsquos agents as a longstanding practice&mdashpart of the status quo&mdashincrease people&rsquos acceptance of the practice? A representative sample of U.S. adults, randomly assigned to conditions in which these practices were described as new or as having been used for more than 40 years, read about the use of torture in questioning of detainees. Torture described as a longstanding practice had more support and was seen as more effective and justifiable than the same torture described as new. Characterization of practices as longstanding&mdasheven if unpopular or disgraceful&mdashenhances their support and increases their perceived justification.

Morgan, G. S., Skitka, L. J., & Wisneski, D. (2010). Moral and religious convictions and intentions to vote in the 2008 Presidential election. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 10, 307 &ndash 320.

The current research investigated whether people&rsquos issue-specific moral and religious convictions had distinct or redundant effects on their intentions to vote in the 2008 presidential election. Participants reported their levels of moral and religious conviction about the issue that they perceived as most important to the 2008 presidential election and their intentions to vote. Results indicated that stronger issue-specific moral convictions and weaker issue-specific religious convictions were associated with increased intentions to vote. In short, people&rsquos moral and religious convictions had distinct and dissimilar effects on their intentions to vote in the 2008 presidential election.
Skitka, L. J., Bauman, C. W., & Lytle, B. L. (2009). The limits of legitimacy: Moral and religious convictions as constraints on deference to authority. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 567 - 578 .
Various versions of legitimacy theory predict that a duty and obligation to obey legitimate authorities generally trumps people&rsquos personal moral and religious values. However, most research has assumed rather than measured the degree to which people have a moral or religious stake in the situations studied. This study tested compliance with and reactions to legitimate authorities in the context of a natural experiment that tracked public opinion before and after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case that challenged states&rsquo rights to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Results indicated that citizens&rsquo degree of moral conviction about the issue of physician-assisted suicide predicted post-ruling perceptions of outcome fairness, decision acceptance, and changes in perceptions of the Court&rsquos legitimacy from pre- to post-ruling. Other results revealed that the effects of religious conviction independently predicted outcome fairness and decision acceptance but not perceptions of post-ruling legitimacy.
Conway, A. R. A., Skitka, L. J., Hemmerich, J. A. & Kershaw, T. C. (2008). Flashbulb memory for September 11, 2001 . Applied Cognitive Psychology , 23, 605 &ndash 623.

The recollection of particularly salient, surprising or consequential events is often called &lsquoflashbulb memories&rsquo. We tested people&rsquos autobiographical memory for details of 11 September 2001 by gathering a large national random sample ( N = 678) of people&rsquos reports immediately following the attacks, and then by contacting them twice more, in September 2002 and August 2003. Three novel findings emerged. First, memory consistency did not vary as a function of demographic variables such as gender, geographical location, age or education. Second, memory consistency did not vary as a function of whether memory was tested before or after the 1-year anniversary of the event, suggesting that media coverage associated with the anniversary did not impact memory. Third, the conditional probability of consistent recollection in 2003 given consistent recollection in 2002 was. In contrast, the conditional probability of consistent recollection in 2003 given inconsistent recollection in 2002 was.. Finally, and in agreement with several prior studies, confidence in memory far exceeded consistency in the long term. Also, those respondents who revealed evidence for consistent flashbulb memory experienced more anxiety in response to the event, and engaged in more covert rehearsal than respondents who did not reveal evidence for consistent flashbulb memory.


The Psychology of Moral Communities, Part 4 of 5: Psychological Challenges to Developing an Explicit Culture of White Identity and Interests

The foregoing has discussed psychological mechanisms underlying the power of human cultures to influence behavior and attitudes. Clearly, the wider culture of the West, now dominated by the anti-White left, poses a major obstacle to developing an explicit culture favorable to White identity and interests. In the absence of changes in the explicit culture on issues related to the legitimacy of White racial identity and interests, Whites will simply continue to retreat into implicit White communities.

There are obviously a great many obstacles to developing such a mainstream culture, the main one being opposition by elites in the media, academia, business, and political cultures. However, there are other mechanisms that have come into play which make it difficult to create such a culture.

Self-interest and the Anti-White Infrastructure

A large part of the problem is that these elites have created a very elaborate infrastructure so that, for the vast majority of individuals, economic and professional self-interest coincides with support for anti-White policies. Particularly egregious examples are individuals and companies that directly benefit from immigration via cheap labor, or companies, such as First Data Corporation, that benefit from remittances sent by immigrants to relatives in other countries.

Noteworthy examples are university presidents, many of whom earn seven-figure salaries. For example, Mary Sue Coleman earned over $1,000,000/year before resigning as president of the University of Michigan in 2014. She had been a leader in attempting to preserve racial preferences for non-Whites and in promoting the (non-existent) educational benefits of diversity.[1]

Similarly, when three White lacrosse players at Duke University were accused of raping a Black woman, faculty and administrators issued statements assuming their guilt.[2] Because the leftist political cultural of the university has become conventionalized, statements deploring the racism and sexism of the players could be counted on as good career moves, even when they turned out to be groundless. Adopting conventional views on race and ethnicity is a sine qua non for a career as a mainstream academic (particularly an administrator), a public intellectual, or in the political arena.

Consistent with the importance of self-interest in supporting explicitly White policies and politicians, a 2017 study found that high-income Whites were less likely to support politicians who strongly identify as White if they think the racial hierarchy is unstable. In other words, Whites who have the most to lose are most likely to be unwilling to “rock the boat” by provoking minorities if they think that the racial hierarchy could change because of demographic shifts.[3]

As Frank Salter has pointed out, Whites who fail to attend to the interests of their wider kinship group benefit themselves and their families at the expense of their own wider ethnic interests.[4] This is especially true for elite Whites—people whose intelligence, power, and wealth could make a very large difference in culture and politics. They are in effect sacrificing millions of ethnic kin—for example, by turning their backs on the White working class who are well known to suffer most from non-White immigration and the multicultural regime—for the benefit of themselves and their immediate family.

This is a disastrously wrongheaded choice by the standard measures of evolutionary success. However, because our evolved psychology is much more attuned to individual and family interests than to the interests of the ethnic group or race, Whites who benefit economically or professionally from adopting conventional views on race and ethnicity are unlikely to feel unease at the psychological level. Indeed, given that conventional views on race and ethnicity have been buttressed by the ideology that departures from these views indicate moral turpitude or psychopathology, such individuals are likely to feel morally righteous by signalling their support—virtue signalling within the moral community created by elite culture.

Social Learning Theory: The Consequences of NotDominating the Cultural High Ground

Although changing the structure of material benefits is doubtless critical for advancing White ethnic interests, we should also pay attention to social learning, i.e., learning by imitating models. People are prone to adopting the ideas and behavior of others who have prestige and high status, and this tendency fits well with an evolutionary perspective in which seeking high social status is a universal feature of the human mind. A critical component of the success of the culture of White dispossession is that it achieved control of the most prestigious and influential institutions of the West, particularly the media and academia. Once this culture became a consensus among the elites, it became widely accepted among Whites of very different levels of education and among people of different social classes.[5]

For example, Leslie Fiedler, a Jewish literary scholar associated with the New York Intellectuals,[6] described a whole generation of American Jewish writers (including Delmore Schwartz, Alfred Kazin, Karl Shapiro, Isaac Rosenfeld, Paul Goodman, Saul Bellow, and H. J. Kaplan) as “typically urban, second-generation Jews.” The works of these writers appeared regularly in Partisan Review, the flagship journal of the New York Intellectuals. Fiedler goes on to say that

the writer drawn to New York from the provinces feels … the Rube, attempts to conform and the almost parody of Jewishness achieved by the gentile writer in New York is a strange and crucial testimony of our time.[7]

Once Jews had achieved prestige and status in the literary world, it was only natural that non-Jews would admire and emulate them by adopting their views on race and ethnicity—views that were mainstream in the Jewish community and well to the left of most Americans.

Like other modeling influences, therefore, maladaptive memes are best promulgated by individuals and institutions with high social status. Because they have been elevated to the pantheon of elite culture, individuals such as Sigmund Freud or Stephen Jay Gould have become cultural icons—true cultural heroes. The cultural memes emanating from their thought, therefore, have a much greater opportunity to take root in the culture as a whole.

Moreover, adopting the views on race and ethnicity held by elites also confers psychological benefits because it enhances one’s reputation in the contemporary moral community created by these elites. On the other hand, publicly dissenting from these views carries huge costs for most people. White elites who turn their back on their own ethnic group are likely to be massively reinforced within the contemporary explicit culture, while those who attempt to advance White interests can expect to suffer psychologically painful costs.

There are many examples of White people who have been fired from their positions in the media or other positions of influence for expressing attitudes on race and ethnicity that depart from the conventional wisdom. On the other hand, the massive social approval University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman received within the culture of the university for her positions on diversity issues is doubtless a positive component of her job. If she suddenly reversed position on the benefits of diversity, her career as a university president and her $1,000,000+/year salary would have been in dire jeopardy.

Benefits and Risks of Conscientiousness

A psychological system that bears on moral reputation is Conscientiousness, discussed previously in connection with inhibiting our natural tendencies in the service of long-term payoffs. However, people who are high on Conscientiousness also tend to be deeply concerned about their reputation.

This is no accident. In fact, developing a good reputation is an important way for conscientious people to get long-term payoffs. Think of it this way. If someone cheats another person, he gets a short-term gain at the expense of developing a bad reputation when his cheating becomes known. The only way he can continue to survive is to prey on others who don’t know his reputation, and that means moving on and interacting with strangers—who will be less trusting—rather than with friends and allies. On the other hand, if he cooperates, both persons benefit, and he develops a reputation as a cooperator that may last a lifetime. In the long run, therefore, he will be better off.

Conscientious people, unlike sociopaths, are cooperators, and as a result they are vitally concerned about their reputation. This is particularly critical for individualists because they tend to interact more often with strangers—their reputation is first and foremost established among non-relatives who would be relatively quick (compared to relatives) to cease interacting with them if there are signs of untrustworthiness.

Theoretical work has shown that having access to people’s reputation is likely to be a necessary condition for the evolution of cooperation.[8] Information on the reputation of individuals constitutes a collective memory of the past history of individuals and is made possible by language—that is, explicit representations of the past history of individuals in cooperative situations.[9] Without such explicit information on reputation, cooperators would be at an evolutionary disadvantage and vulnerable to a strategy of short-term exploitation rather than long-term cooperation with like-minded others. This explicit information on reputation is therefore processed by the higher brain centers located in the prefrontal cortex linked to Conscientiousness.

I suggest, therefore, that evolutionary pressure for cooperation is a critical adaptive function accounting for the evolution of Conscientiousness. Psychological research shows that people high in Conscientiousness are responsible, dependable, dutiful, and reliable. Indeed, responsibility emerges as a facet (i.e., subcategory) of Conscientiousness defined as cooperative, dependable, being of service to others, and contributing to community and group projects.[10] These traits are also highly correlated with honesty and morally exemplary behavior.

Thus Conscientiousness not only makes us better able to inhibit natural impulses like ethnocentrism, it also makes us more concerned about our reputation in a moral community. We want to fit into the community and we want to be known as cooperators, not cheaters. At the low end of Conscientiousness are sociopaths (also low on Love/Nurturance). They are more likely to take advantage of people for short-term gains and care nothing about developing a reputation as honest and trustworthy. After they prey on one victim, they must move on to an area where their reputation is not known.

Obviously, Conscientiousness as defined above is a pillar of human civilization and cultural life. This is especially so in the individualistic cultures of the West given its importance in achieving a good reputation in groups of strangers.

To this set of traits, Francis Fukuyama also adds trust as a critical virtue of individualist societies.[11] It is linked to Conscientiousness because we are more likely trust people who have a good reputation—people who have the trust of others. Trust is really a way of emphasizing the importance of moral universalism as a trait of individualist societies. In collectivist, family-oriented societies, trust ends at the border of the family and the wider kinship group. Social organization, whether in political culture or in economic enterprise, tends to be a family affair. Morality is defined as what is good for the group—typically the kinship group (e.g., “Is it good for the Jews?”).

This lack of trust beyond the kinship group is the fundamental problem that prevents the development of civil societies in much of Asia and Africa, where divisions into opposing religious and ultimately kinship groups define the political landscape. People who have good jobs are expected to help their relatives, leading to high levels of corruption.[12] The movement of the West toward multiculturalism and opposing identity groups based on race and ethnicity means the end of individualist Western culture, replaced by a culture characterized by conflict between self-interested groups rather than individuals.

In individualist cultures, organizations include nonfamily members in positions of trust, and nepotism is looked on as immoral and is subject to legal sanctions. Morality is defined in terms of universal moral principles that are independent of kinship connections or group membership. Trust therefore is of critical importance to individualist society.

And fundamentally trust is about building a trustworthy reputation—for example, a reputation for honest dealing, not only with fellow kinsmen, but with others as well. It follows that European-derived people are particularly prone to being concerned with reputation. In the individualistic societies in which Westerners evolved, cooperation (and therefore success) resulted from having a good reputation, not from being able to rely on extensive kinship relations.

There are obviously great benefits to trust and the wider psychological system of Conscientiousness. The suite of traits associated with individualism is the basis of Western modernism. Relying on the good reputation of others is a key ingredient to building cooperative civil societies capable of rising above amoral familism.

The downside, however, is that conscientious people become so concerned about their reputation that they become conformists. Once the cultural and political left had won the day, a large part of its success was that it dominated the moral and intellectual high ground on issues of race and ethnicity. The culture of critique had become conventionalized and a pillar of the intellectual establishment. People who dissented from this leftist consensus were faced with a disastrous loss of reputation—nothing less than psychological agony.

There are many examples showing the power of this mechanism. Over 75 years ago Anne Morrow Lindbergh became one of the first victims of the modern version of political correctness when her husband, Charles Lindbergh, stated that Jews were one of the forces attempting to get the United States to enter World War II. Shortly after his speech, she wrote:

The storm is beginning to blow up hard. … I sense that this is the beginning of a fight and consequent loneliness and isolation that we have not known before. … For I am really much more attached to the worldly things than he is, mind more giving up friends, popularity, etc., mind much more criticism and coldness and loneliness. … Will I be able to shop in New York at all now? I am always stared at—but now to be stared at with hate, to walk through aisles of hate![13]

What is striking and perhaps counterintuitive, is that the guilt and shame remain even when she is completely satisfied at an intellectual (explicit) level that what her husband said was based on good evidence, that it was morally justifiable, and that he is a man of integrity.

I cannot explain my revulsion of feeling by logic. Is it my lack of courage to face the problem? Is it my lack of vision and seeing the thing through? Or is my intuition founded on something profound and valid? I do not know and am only very disturbed, which is upsetting for him. I have the greatest faith in him as a person—in his integrity, his courage, and his essential goodness, fairness, and kindness—his nobility really. … How then explain my profound feeling of grief about what he is doing? If what he said is the truth (and I am inclined to think it is), why was it wrong to state it?

Her reaction is involuntary and irrational—beyond the reach of logical analysis. Charles Lindbergh was exactly right in what he said, but a rational understanding of the correctness of his analysis cannot lessen the psychological trauma to his wife, who must face the hostile stares of others. The trauma is the result of the power of the Conscientiousness system in leading to loss of reputation resulting from breaching the cultural taboo against discussing Jewish influence.

I’ve had similar experiences, on a much smaller scale, resulting from attacks on me at the university where I worked.[14] As with Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s concern about going shopping in New York, the most difficult thing is dealing with loss of reputation in my face-to-face world at the university. The biggest problem is that being an academic nonconformist on race and ethnicity has huge moral overtones. If one dissents from the reigning theory of macroeconomics or the main influences on nineteenth-century French Romanticism, one may be viewed as a bit eccentric or perhaps none too smart. But one is not likely to be subjected to torrents of moral outrage.

Given that academics tend to be Conscientious types, it’s not surprising that academics are generally loath to do or say things that might endanger their reputation. This is at least ironic, because it conflicts with the image of academics as fearless seekers of truth. Unlike politicians, who must continue to curry favor with the public in order to be re-elected, and unlike media figures who have no job protection, academics with tenure have no excuse for not being willing to endure labels such as “anti-Semite” or “racist” in order to pursue their perception of the truth. Part of the job—and a large part of the rationale for tenure in the first place—is that they are supposed to be willing to take unpopular positions: to forge ahead using all that brain power and expertise to chart new territories that challenge the popular wisdom.

But that image of academia is simply not based in reality. Consider, for example, an article that appeared almost two months after the publication of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s famous essay on the Israel lobby,[15] appropriately titled “A Hot Paper Muzzles Academia.”[16]

Instead of a roiling debate, most professors not only agreed to disagree but agreed to pretend publicly that there was no disagreement at all. At Harvard and other schools, the Mearsheimer-Walt paper proved simply too hot to handle—and it revealed an academia deeply split yet lamentably afraid to engage itself on one of the hottest political issues of our time. Call it the academic Cold War: distrustful factions rendered timid by the prospect of mutually assured career destruction.

Professors refused to take a stand on the paper, either in favor or against. As one Ivy League professor noted, “A lot of [my colleagues] were more concerned about the academic politics of it, and where they should come down, in that sense.” As in 1941, discussing Jewish influence—even in a fact-based, dispassionate manner—carries huge costs.

Sadly, there is now a great deal of evidence that academics in general are careful to avoid controversy or do much of anything that will create hostility. In fact, some researchers are pointing to this fact to question whether tenure is justified. A recent survey of the attitudes of 1,004 professors at elite universities illustrates this quite clearly. Regardless of their rank, professors rated their colleagues as

reluctant to engage in activities that ran counter to the wishes of colleagues. Even tenured full professors believed [other full professors] would invoke academic freedom only “sometimes” rather than “usually” or “always” they chose confrontational options “rarely,” albeit more often than did lower ranked colleagues. … Their willingness to self-limit may be due to a desire for harmony and/or respect for the criticisms of colleagues whose opinions they value. Thus, the data did not support the depiction of Professorus Americanus as unleashed renegade.[17]

Seen in this context, the reaction to the Mearsheimer and Walt paper makes a lot of sense. As one professor noted, “People might debate it if you gave everyone a get-out-of-jail-free card and promised that afterward everyone would be friends.”[18] This intense desire to be accepted and liked by one’s colleagues is certainly understandable. Striving for a good reputation is part of our nature, especially for the conscientious among us.

Ostracism and moral condemnation from others in one’s face-to-face world trigger guilt feelings. These are automatic responses resulting ultimately from the importance of fitting into a group—i.e., they were developed over evolutionary time. This is especially so in the individualistic cultures of the West, where having a good reputation beyond the borders of the kinship group forms the basis of trust and civil society, and where having a poor reputation would have resulted in ostracism and evolutionary death.

Moreover, it’s interesting that in my experience, decisions by academic departments and committees are by consensus as is typical of egalitarian groups, as in Scandinavian culture as discussed below. Going against a consensus is thus likely to risk ostracism.

As shown by these examples, being able to rationally defend the ideas and attitudes that bring moral condemnation is not sufficient to defuse the complex negative emotions brought on by this form of ostracism. One might think that just as the prefrontal control areas can inhibit ethnocentric impulses originating in the sub-cortex, we should be able to inhibit these primitive guilt feelings. After all, the guilt feelings ultimately result from absolutely normal attitudes of ethnic identity and interests that have been delegitimized as a result of the ultimate failure of the period of ethnic defense discussed in Chapter 6—failure that eventuated in the erection of the culture of critique in America and throughout the West. It should be therapeutic to understand that many of the people who created this culture retained a strong sense of their own ethnic identity and interests. And it should help assuage guilt feelings if we understand that this culture is now propped up by people seeking material advantages and psychological approval at the expense of their own legitimate long-term ethnic interests. Given the strong Jewish influence in erecting this culture,[19] the guilt feelings are nothing more than the end result of ethnic warfare, pursued at the level of ideology and culture instead of on the battlefield.

Getting rid of guilt and shame, however, is certainly not an easy process. Psychotherapy for White people begins with an explicit understanding of the issues that allows us to act in our interests, even if we can’t entirely control the negative feelings engendered by those actions.

Evolutionary theorist Robert Trivers has proposed that the emotion of guilt is a sign to the group that a person will mend his ways and behave according to group norms in the future. Shame, on the other hand, functions as a display of submission to people higher in the dominance hierarchy.[20] From that perspective, a person who is incapable of shame or guilt even for obvious transgressions is literally a sociopath—someone who has no desire to fit into group norms. As noted above, sociopaths are at the low end of Conscientiousness, and there were doubtless strong selection pressures against sociopathy in the small groups that we evolved in, especially among the individualistic peoples of the West as noted above, White subjects in fact do score higher on Conscientiousness than other groups with the exception of East Asians. The trustworthy cooperators with excellent reputations won the day.

Cognitive Dissonance as a Force of PsychologicalInertia

Once the left had established cultural hegemony throughout the West, people were essentially socialized to see the world through the lens of a leftist worldview—i.e., a worldview in which Whites, especially White males, see themselves as past oppressors of the entire gamut of identity groups that make up coalition of the aggrieved: Blacks, Native Americans, Latinos, Jews, women, sexual non-conformists, etc. Once established, such a mindset of liberal-left beliefs is difficult to change.

Cognitive dissonance research has shown that people with strong beliefs, especially beliefs tied up with their personal identity, often do not change them when confronted by conflicting evidence.[21] Fundamentally, the brain wants to avoid conflicting ideas and often uses illogical reasoning and other mechanisms to retain a sense of psychological comfort. For example, when presented with contradictory evidence (such as data showing genetically based race differences in intelligence), people may ignore the data in order to retain a self-image as a morally righteous person. Moreover, people tend to forget evidence that conflicts with their beliefs, and they tend to accept weak arguments that fit with their world view while rejecting strong arguments and data that conflict with it. They may focus their attention not on the evidence itself but on the person presenting the evidence, impugning their motives and accepting guilt-by-association arguments. Clearly, the mind is designed to go to great lengths to avoid psychological discomfort.[22]

This poses a challenge in trying to convert White liberals and most White conservatives to accepting ideas such as that Whites have legitimate interests as a group, that race is real, and that immigration of non-Whites is a long-term disaster for Whites, etc.[23]

This is especially the case given the previously discussed mechanisms that promote inertia within the culture erected by the left. Nonconformity carries costs that can be avoided by dismissing contradictory information. And, given the control that mainstream media has over information presented to the public on race, etc., people can easily avoid information that conflicts with their world view. This explains why the leftist media corporations like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are removing such information from the internet or at least limiting its reach. And it shows how important it is to erect an explicit culture in which White identity and interests are legitimate.

[1] Mary S. Coleman, “Diversity Matters at Michigan,” University of Michigan News Service (November 8, 2006).

[2] Michael Skube, “Duke’s Recovery from a Rush to Judgment,” Los Angeles Times (December 31, 2006).

[3] Sora Jun, Brian S. Lowery, and Lucia Guillory, “Keeping Minorities Happy: Hierarchy Maintenance and Whites’ Decreased Support for Highly Identified White Politicians,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 43, no. 12 (2017): 1615–1629.

[4] Frank K. Salter, On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethny, and Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2007 orig. published in 2003 by Peter Lang, Bern, Switzerland).

[5] MacDonald, The Culture of Critique, Ch. 6.

[6] The New York Intellectuals are analyzed as a Jewish intellectual movement in The Culture of Critique Ibid.

[7] Leslie A. Fiedler, “The State of American Writing,” Partisan Review 15 (1948): 870–875, 872, 873.

[8] Lan Liu and Tong Chen, “Sustainable Cooperation Based on Reputation and Habituation in the Public Goods Game,” Biosystems 160 (2017): 33–38 Manfred Milinski, Dirk Semmann, and H-J. Krambeck, “Reputation Helps Solve the ‘Tragedy of the Commons,’” Nature 415 (2002): 424–426 Dirk Semmann, H-J. Krambeck and Manfred Milinski, “Reputation is Valuable within and outside One’s Own Social Group,” Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 57(2005): 611–616.

[9] Mojdeh Mohtashemi and Lik Mui, “Evolution of Indirect Reciprocity by Social Information: The Role of Trust and Reputation in Evolution of Altruism,” Journal of Theoretical Biology 223 (2003): 523–531.

[10] Brent W. Roberts, Oleksandr S. Chernyshenko, Stephen Stark, and Lewis S. Goldberg, “The Structure of Conscientiousness: An Empirical Investigation Based on Seven Major Personality Questionnaires,” Personnel Psychology 58 (2005): 103–139.

[11] Francis Fukuyama, Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity (New York: Free Press, 1995).

[12] Kajuju Murori, “Just Like Corruption, Nepotism Also Strains Africa’s Growth,” African Exponent (June 27, 2016).

[13] Anne Morrow Lindbergh, War Within and Without: Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980), 220–239.

[14] Kevin MacDonald, “Campaign Against Me by the Southern Poverty Law Center,” kevinmacdonald.net.

[15] John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Israel Lobby,” London Review of Books 28, no. 6 (March 23, 2006): 3–12.

[16] Eve Fairbanks, “A Hot Paper Muzzles Academia,” Los Angeles Times (May14, 2006).

[17] Stephen J. Ceci, Wendy M. Williams, and Katrin Mueller-Johnson, “Is Tenure Justified? An Experimental Study of Faculty Beliefs about Tenure, Promotion, and Academic Freedom,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29, no. 6 (2006): 553–594, 565,

[18] Fairbanks, “A Hot Paper Muzzles Academia.”

[19] MacDonald, The Culture of Critique.

[20] Robert Trivers, Social Evolution (Benjamin-Cummings, 1985).

[21] Leon Festinger, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1957).

[22] Margaret Hefferman, Willful Blindness (New York: Bloomsbury, 2012).


Method

Participants

Participants were recruited from a Dutch university. They were required to be fluent Dutch speakers. We pre-registered a target sample size of 182 participants, with at least 91 men and 91 women (see https://osf.io/w8qtv/ for the pre-registration, including descriptions of an priori power analysis, and an exhaustive list of measures). Because we had a much easier time recruiting women than men, we continued enrolling women until we reached the targeted sample size of 91 men. Ultimately, 233 individuals participated in at least the first of two experimental sessions in exchange for 10 euros or course credit, and 216 individuals participated in both sessions. Given the importance of participant sex to some of the analyses, we excluded one participant who was undergoing hormonal therapy while transitioning from female to male. No other participants were excluded. The final sample consisted of 92 men and 140 women, with ages ranging from 17 to 43 (M = 21.15, SD = 3.56). With an alpha equal to .05, this sample size affords 80% power to detect bivariate relationships of r = .18. It also affords 80% power to detect differences between anger and disgust in the self- and other-conditions equivalent to dz = .19.

Procedure

Participants completed two separate sessions, one week apart. They were greeted by a research assistant, who escorted them to the study location, gathered informed consent, asked the participant to turn off his or her mobile phone, and situated the participant at a computer. Participants then read a scenario in which, while attending a house party, they entered a room in which a man was smoking a cigarette and casually flicking ashes on a pile of party attendees’ jackets, with the jacket on top of the pile badly damaged (adapted from Griskevicius et al., 2009). In the first session, participants were randomly assigned to read either aself-victim scenario in which the damaged jacket was their own or an other-victim scenario in which the damaged jacket belonged to someone else, with the participant’s jacket lying undamaged in the middle of the pile. In the second session, they read the scenario they had not read in the first session. After reading the scenario, participants reported their disgust and anger (among other emotions) and their direct and indirect aggressive sentiments toward the man described in the scenario. These measures were identical to those used in Study 4 of Molho et al. (2017), though they were presented in Dutch rather than English. This was the only manipulation in the study.

Next, participants were given a break from the computer tasks to provide physical measurements. After removing their shoes and any jacket or sweater they were wearing, their height was recorded using a tape measure affixed to a wall, and their weight measured using a digital scale. They then squeezed a Jamar hydraulic hand dynamometer twice with their left hand and twice with their right hand (to measure forearm strength) and twice with both hands in front of the chest (to measure chest strength Sell et al., 2009). If any of the two measurements differed substantially, a third measurement was taken to replace the outlier of the other two. Finally, bicep circumference was measured for each arm using a BalanceFrom tape measure. After completing the physical measures, participants were asked to stand against a white wall at a standardized distance from a camera and assume a neutral facial expression. The researcher took one full body picture and one picture framing the participant’s face.

After the physical measurements, participants returned to the computer, where they completed a series of individual differences measures, including those intended to assess anger proneness, success in conflict, and history of fighting. In the second session, participants first read the moral violation scenario they had not seen in their first session and provided emotion and aggression ratings in response to that scenario, and they again provided physical measurements and photographs. After this, they were thanked, received payment or credit, and were debriefed.

Measures

Emotion

Participants saw arrays of six faces and reported their agreement with the statement “These faces match how I felt while reading the scenario” on a 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) point scale. Separate arrays were presented for happiness, surprise, fear, sadness, anger, and disgust. Participants also selected which of the six arrays best matched their reaction to the scenario. Seventy-nine percent of participants selected either the anger or disgust array as best matching their reaction in the other condition (43.5% anger, 35.4% disgust), and 75% selected one of these two arrays in the self condition (55.5% anger and 19.8% disgust).

Aggression

Participants indicated their agreement with five statements describing directly aggressive responses (e.g., “I would insult the person described in the scenario to his face”) and five statements describing indirectly aggressive responses (e.g., “I would spread negative information about the person described in the scenario to others”) on a 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) point scale. Alpha coefficients ranged from .81 to .87 for direct and indirect aggression in the self and other conditions.

Anger Proneness

Sell and colleagues (2009) found that formidability (in men) and attractiveness (in women) related to multiple indices of proneness to conflict. Based on factor analyses of Sell and colleagues’ data, we administered 10 proneness to anger items (e.g., “I get very angry when someone makes fun of me,” α = .74), six success in conflict items (e.g., “When there’s a dispute, I usually get my way,” α = .80), and five history of fighting items (e.g., “I have physically intimidated someone who had it coming,” α = .79), each of which were measured on a 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) point scale.

Formidability

A principal component analysis was conducted on the average of the grip strength measures, the average of the chest strength measures, and the average of the bicep circumference measures. The first principal component accounted for 75% of the total variance in strength measures. Regression estimates on this component were saved and treated as formidability scores.

Attractiveness

Fifty individuals rated targets on the question “What percentage of (fe)male VU students is this person more attractive than” on an 11-point scale, with points labeled at 10 percentile intervals ranging from 0 to 100. Raters were randomly assigned to rate either full-body or face images, and to rate photographs from either the first session or the second session. All raters first rated one set of the male or female photographs, and then rated a set of photographs from the other sex. Based on low (<.10) or negative item-total correlations, four ratings were removed. Coefficient alpha for the remaining ratings were all above .84. Ratings were averaged across the two face sets (r = .85) and across the two body sets (r = .70). Because face and body ratings were also strongly correlated, r = .75, they were averaged into a single attractiveness score.

Additional measures

We also administered the HEXACO-100 (Ashton et al., 2004), the egalitarianism items of the SDO-7 (Ho et al., 2015), and the SVO slider measure (Murphy et al., 2011). We do not report analyses using these instruments here (though analyses involving SDO and SVO are described in the online supplement).


Notes

See, for example, Lawrence Kohlberg The Philosophy of Moral Development: Moral Stages and the Idea of Justice (New York, 1981) Jonathan Haidt, “The Emotional Dog and Its Rational Tail: A Social Intuitionist Approach to Moral Judgment,” Psychological Review, CVIII (2001), 814–834.

Haidt and Fredrik Bjorklund, “Social Intuitionists Answer Six Questions about Moral Psychology,” in Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Moral Psychology: The Cognitive Science of Morality: Intuition and Diversity (Cambridge, Mass., 2008), II, 190.

David Dunning, “Motivated Cognition in Self and Social Thought,” in Mario Mikulincer and Phillip R. Shaver (eds.), APA Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology. I. Attitudes and Social Cognition (Washington, D.C, 2015), 778.

See Darcia Narvaez, “The Social Intuitionist Model: Some Counter-Intuitions,” in Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Moral Psychology, 233–240 Elliot Turiel, “Morality: Epistemology, Development, and Social Opposition,” in Melanie Killen and Judith G. Smetana (eds.), Handbook of Moral Development (New York, 2014), 3–22 Justin F. Landy and Edward B. Royzman, “The Moral Myopia Model: Why and How Reasoning Matters in Moral Judgment,” in Gordon Pennycook (ed.), The New Reflectionism in Cognitive Psychology: Why Reason Matters (New York, 2018), 70–92.

Charles G. Lord, Lee Ross, and Mark R. Lepper, “Biased Assimilation and Attitude Polarization: The Effects of Prior Theories on Subsequently Considered Evidence,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, XXXVII (1979), 2098–2109.

Lord, Ross, and Lepper, “Biased Assimilation,” 2098 [abstract] Anthony Bastardi, Eric L. Uhlmann, and Ross, “Wishful Thinking: Belief, Desire, and the Motivated Evaluation of Scientific Evidence,” Psychological Science, XXII (2011), 732 Thomas Gilovich, How We Know What Isn’t So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life (New York, 1991), 83–84.

For a longer list of mechanisms, see Dunning, “Motivated Cognition in Self and Social Thought”, 785–787. Peter H. Ditto, David A. Pizarro, and David Tannenbaum, “Motivated Moral Reasoning,” in Daniel M. Bartels et al. (eds.), Moral Judgment and Decision Making (San Diego, 2009), 311–312. The example of the hiring committee is pertinent in cases of moral reasoning as well. See Ditto, Pizarro, and Tannenbaum, “Motivated Moral Reasoning,” 326–331.

Ziva Kunda, Social Cognition: Making Sense of People (Cambridge, Mass., 1999), 186–187, 225 C. Sedikides and J. D. Green, “On the Self-Protective Nature of Inconsistency/Negativity Management: Using the Person Memory Paradigm to Examine Self-Referent Memory,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, LXXIX (2000), 906–922 idem, “What I don’t Recall Can’t Hurt Me: Information Negativity Versus Information Inconsistency as Determinants of Memorial Self-Defense,” Social Cognition, XXII (2004), 4–29 Green, Sedikides, and A. P. Gregg, “Forgotten but Not Gone: The Recall and Recognition of Self-Threatening Memories,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, XLIV (2008), 547–561.

This paragraph draws heavily from Dunning, “Motivated Cognition in Self and Social Thought” Haidt, “The Emotional Dog and Its Rational Tail” idem, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (New York, 2012).

For a detailed discussion of the impulse to think well of ourselves, see M. Alicke and Sedikides, “Self-Enhancement and Self-Protection: What They Are and What They Do,” European Journal of Social Psychology, XX (2009), 1–48. See also Iain A. McCormick, Frank H. Walkey, and Dianne E. Green, “Comparative Perceptions of Driver Ability—A Confirmation and Expansion,” Accident Analysis and Prevention, XVIII (1986), 205–208. Dunning, Self-Insight: Roadblocks and Detours on the Path to Knowing Thyself (New York, 2012), 6–7 idem, Judith A. Meyerowitz, and Amy D. Holzberg, “Ambiguity and Self-Evaluation: The Role of Idiosyncratic Trait Definitions in Self-Serving Assessments of Ability,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, LVII (1989), 1082 K. Patricia Cross, “Not Can But Will College Teaching Be Improved,” New Directions for Higher Education, XVII (1977), 1–15.

Michelle Moon, “The Effects of Divorce on Children: Married and Divorced Parents’ Perspectives,” Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, LII (2011), 344–349.

Leon Festinger and James M. Carlsmith, “Cognitive Consequences of Forced Compliance,” Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, LVIII (1959), 203–210. If a single statement that a boring task is interesting can affect what people actually believe (or at least assert) about an experience just a few minutes earlier, what would a lifetime of holding slaves do to a person’s ability to affirm that slavery is wrong? For slaveholders to admit that enslavement is a serious moral wrong would be to admit that they are deeply implicated in evil, which would be contrary to their desire to view themselves positively. Both affirmational and coherence motives would have strongly inclined people involved in slaveholding or slave trading to have viewed slavery as morally permissible.

Eddie Harmon-Jones and Cindy Harmon-Jones, “Cognitive Dissonance Theory: An Update with a Focus on the Action-based Model,” in James Y. Shah and Wendy L. Gardner (eds.), Handbook of Motivation Science (New York, 2008), 73, 75–76.

Melvin J. Lerner and Carolyn H. Simmons, “Observer’s Reaction to the ‘Innocent Victim’: Compassion or Rejection?” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, IV (1966), 203–210 Lerner, The Belief in a Just World: A Fundamental Delusion (New York, 1980).

Haidt, “The Emotional Dog and Its Rational Tail,” 821.

Serena Chen, David Shechter, and Shelly Chaiken, “Getting at the Truth or Getting Along: Accuracy versus Impression-Motivated Heuristic and Systematic Processing,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, LXXI (1996), 262–275.

Geoffrey L. Cohen, “Party over Policy: The Dominating Impact of Group Influence on Political Beliefs,” ibid., LXXXV (2003), 808–822.

Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (New York, 1997), 267–272 Patrick Nolan and Gerhard Lenski, Human Societies: An Introduction to Macrosociology (Boulder, 2011 orig. pub. 1970), 126 Nolan and Lenski, Human Societies, 126 Jack Goody, “Slavery in Time and Space,” in James Watson (ed.), Asian and African Systems of Slavery (New York, 1980), 25–26. For the sultan’s support of the slave trade, see British and Foreign State Papers. 1842–1843 (London, 1858), XXXI, 600, quoted in Chouki El Hamel, Black Morocco: A History of Slavery, Race, and Islam (New York, 2013), 243.

Notable factors discussed in the historical literature concern (1) slave revolts and slave resistance (2) widespread popular opposition to slavery (3) the importance of social crises related to war, revolution, and the threat of revolution (4) macro-scale economic changes and (5) the use of the antislavery cause by European imperial powers to justify their control over other peoples. For an excellent entry into this literature, see Joel Quirk, The Anti-Slavery Project: From the Slave Trade to Human Trafficking (Philadelphia, 2011), 23–112 Christopher Leslie Brown, Moral Capital: The Foundations of British Abolitionism (Chapel Hill, 2006), 3–22 for factor (1), Robin Blackburn, The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights (London, 2011), 173–273, 351–364, 411–414 idem, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 1776–1848 (London, 1988) for factor (2), Drescher, “Whose Abolition? Popular Pressure and the Ending of the British Slave Trade,” Past Present, CXLIII (1994), 136–166 idem, Abolition: A History of Slavery and Antislavery (New York, 2009) for factor (3), Blackburn, American Crucible, 2–5, 275–490 for factor (4), Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (New York, 1961), and its critiques in Drescher, Econocide: British Slavery in the Era of Abolition (Pittsburgh, 1977), 5–7, 126, 229, n. 9, n. 10 Roger Anstey, “‘Capitalism and Slavery’: A Critique,” Economic History Review, XXI (1968), 307–320. David Brion Davis defends Williams’ more general view that opposition to slavery was in the interests of important elites in Britain in “Reflections on Abolitionism and Ideological Hegemony,” American Historical Review Forum, XCII (1987), 797–812 (repr. in Thomas Bender [ed.], The Antislavery Debate: Capitalism and Abolitionism as a Problem in Historical Interpretation [Berkeley, 1992], 161–179). Also important in relation to (4) are Eric Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War (New York, 1995) John Ashworth, “Free Labor, Wage Labor, and the Slave Power: Republicanism and the Republican Party in the 1850s,” in Melvyn Stokes and Stephen Conway (eds.), The Market Revolution in America: Social, Political, and Religious Expressions, 1800–1880 (Charlottesville, 1996), 128–146 Blackburn, American Crucible, 279–281, 318–351, 368–376. For (5), see Quirk, Anti-Slavery Project, 54–112. For the importance of the widespread popular opposition to slavery that emerged in Britain and the northern United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, see, in addition to Drescher cited above, Blackburn, American Crucible, 329 and 449. The quotation contained in the paragraph to which this note is appended is from Davis, “The Perils of Doing History by Ahistorical Abstraction: A Reply to Thomas L. Haskell’s AHR Forum Reply,” in Bender (ed.), Antislavery Debate, 297 the statistics relating to the 1814 petition are from Drescher, Abolition, 229.

David Eltis, The Rise of African Slavery in the Americas (New York, 2000), 1–7, 116–117 Quirk, Anti-Slavery Project, 25–27 Brown, Moral Capital, 41–48 Quirk, The Anti-Slavery Project, 25–27, 41–43 James Walvin, England, Slaves and Freedom, 1776–1838 (Jackson, 1986), 26–27, 40 Adam Hochschild, Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves (Boston, 2005), 218–221.

Thomas Haskell, “Capitalism and the Origins of the Humanitarian Sensibility, Part 2,” in Bender (ed.), Antislavery Debate, 149 Davis, Slavery and Human Progress (New York, 1984), 156–159 Stanley L. Engerman, Slavery, Emancipation and Freedom: Comparative Perspectives (Baton Rouge, 2007), 74–76 Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (New York, 2011), 180–183 Drescher, Abolition, 113, 124 Quirk, Anti-Slavery Project, 27–29, 31–32. For a fuller, more critical discussion of the Enlightenment’s influence on abolitionism, see Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture (Ithaca, 1966), 391–445. Christian Welzel, Freedom Rising: Human Empowerment and the Quest for Emancipation (New York, 2013), musters a wealth of data to argue that the rising standard of living created by market economies and the Industrial Revolution made individual freedoms more valuable to people, thus favoring the Enlightenment ideals often identified as a contributor to antislavery movements. I’m grateful to Jonathan Haidt for introducing me to Welzel’s work.

See Roger Anstey, The Atlantic Slave Trade and British Abolition 1760–1810 (Atlantic Highlands, N.J., 1975) Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture, 291–390 Rodney Stark, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts, and the End of Slavery (Princeton, 2003), 291–366 Walvin, Questioning Slavery (London, 1996), 163.

Pinker, Better Angels of Our Nature, 172–180 Blackburn, American Crucible, 152–159, 341–342. For a complementary treatment of sympathy, see Davis, Problem of Slavery in Western Culture, 348–364, on the rise of an ethics of benevolence.

Blackburn, American Crucible, 162–165, 221 Brown, Moral Capital, 27 Blackburn, Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 131–160. Drescher criticizes this view in Abolition, 212.

Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men Blackburn, American Crucible, 348, 368–370.

Brown, Moral Capital, 44, 42, 41 Quirk, Anti-Slavery Project, 27.

Blackburn, American Crucible, 165, 26.

Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men, 5 Blackburn, American Crucible, 26.

Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men, xxv.

For the centrality of moral conviction, see Drescher, Abolition, 212–213 Robert William Fogel, Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery (New York, 1989), 410.

For this last point, thanks go to an anonymous referee for this journal, who suggests that this possibility fits well with social domain theory.

Hochschild, Bury the Chains, 216–218 Blackburn, American Crucible, 156–159. Referring to a diagram widely circulated by abolitionists to show how slaves were tightly packed in the hold of a slave ship, Drescher writes in Abolition, “[H]alf a century after the launching of the antislavery movement, an aging citizen could recall, in 1838, how his own sense of justice was first aroused by a print of the slave ship Brookes hanging on the wall of his home” (251). See also Eltis and Nicholas Radburn, “Visualizing the Middle Passage: The Brooks and the Reality of Crowding in the Transatlantic Slave Trade,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History, XLIX (2019), 533–565 James L. Huston, “The Experiential Basis of the Northern Antislavery Impulse,” Journal of Southern History, LVI (1990), 609–640 Elizabeth B. Clark, “The Sacred Rights of the Weak: Pain, Sympathy, and the Culture of Individual Rights in Antebellum America,” Journal of American History, LXXXII (1995), 463–493.

For an extended discussion of slavery in England, see Michael Guasco, Slaves and Englishmen: Human Bondage in the Early Modern Atlantic World (Philadelphia, 2014), 27–33. Eltis, Rise of African Slavery in the Americas, 1–7 Drescher, Abolition, 4–25 Walvin, England, Slaves and Freedom, 26–45 Sue Peabody, “There Are No Slaves in France”: The Political Culture of Race and Slavery in the Ancien Regime (New York, 1996), 4 census data cited in Stark, For the Glory of God, 321 Hochschild, Bury the Chains, 2.

Quirk, Anti-Slavery Project, 44, 53 Drescher, Abolition, 139–140, 311, 317–327 James Brewer Stewart, Holy Warriors: The Abolitionists and American Slavery (New York, 1976), 87, 98, 153–154.

Hochschild, Bury the Chains, 107.

A possible challenge to this hypothesis concerns the abolitionist movements in France and the Netherlands, where slavery had largely disappeared by the early modern period. The fact that few people in France and the Netherlands owned slaves should have made these countries fertile ground for the abolitionist movement. Yet in striking contrast to Britain, abolitionist activity in France and the Netherlands was either negligible or late in arriving. For the political and religious factors that help to explain the differences in the timing and strength of abolitionist movements in Britain, France, and the Netherlands, see Maartje Janse, “‘Holland as a Little England’? British Anti-slavery Missionaries and Continental Abolitionist Movements in the Mid-Nineteenth Century,” Past Present, CCXXIX (2015), 123–160 Stark, For the Glory of God, 354–356.

Drescher, Abolition, 7 Stark, For the Glory of God, 359.

Stark, For the Glory of God, 358–359, 339.

Davis, Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 241 Blackburn, American Crucible, 6. Haskell interprets Davis in “Capitalism and the Origins of the Humanitarian Sensibility, Part 1,” in Bender (ed.), Antislavery Debate, 120–121.

Blackburn, American Crucible, 26 Stark, For the Glory of God, 291–366, esp. 339 and 365.

Deborah S. Rogers, Omkar Deshpande, and Marcus W. Feldman, “The Spread of Inequality,” PLoS One, VI (2011), e24683, available at https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0024683 Edward P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (New York, 1966) Richard H. Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (London, 1926).

Rogers, Deshpande, and Feldman, “Spread of Inequality,” 1.

Sean Wilentz, Chants Democratic: New York City the Rise of the American Working Class, 1788–1850 (New York, 1984), 96, 149, 271–274, 286.