Psychology 217 Exam 1 Study Guide

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Psychology & Brain Sciences
Brian Lickel

Psychology 217 Exam 1 Study Guide Laying the Groundwork Kind vs. Cruel Our intuitions are often strong about what is kind and what is cruel Circumstantial when it comes to different people and situations - Kindness: hugging a parent or rapist? - Cruelty: laughing at someone’s death or rejoicing Osama Bin Laden’s death? - Death gets more sad when you are closer to the person or you can identify with the person in your own group (Aworm  chicken  dog  student on campus  family) Decoding our moral intuitions Decode what makes something “cruel” or kind” Trying to learn and understand where those reactions come from Important Point #1: Don’t commit the naturalistic fallacy Naturalistic fallacy: “This behavior is natural or typical; therefore, this behavior is normal” What is typical does not determine what is right Our goal is not to criticize or praise, but to understand Important Point #2: Evolution matters – Don’t ignore our species’evolved characteristics Being aware of the naturalistic fallacy protects us from incorrectly arguing that there is a biological basis for determining our values But we almost must guard against assuming that as humans, we can easily create any kind of moral system we want Our brain and culture are rooted in the evolutionary history and character of our species Our moral intuitions are influenced by brain and our species-typical social structure Important Point #3: Motivational Autonomy: Biology determines what CAN be, not what MUST be (Motivation: is what drives us; Autonomy: do what you wanna do) Our species-typical brain and social structure provide a lot of building blocks but how those building blocks are put together are put together and applied is often flexible - Deck of CardsAnalogy: It is a set of 52 non-negotiable cards We should be skeptical about the inevitability of any kind of outcome or generalization (like “war is inevitable” or “people are fundamentally selfish”) Important Point #4: The Social Nature of our species is the key for cruelty and kindness Human life is organized into groups: We are group living primates - Without their group, ancestral humans would quickly perish - We are still completely dependent on groups for survival (and thriving) This heritage and current reality of humans as group-living primates is the single, simple, key to everything! Important Point #5: The Human Brain’s capabilities reflect our evolution Brain mechanism and processes and how they play a role in “cruel” and “kind” behavior The emotion system and how emotions (like disgust) play a role in our treatment of out-groups Some key features: - Arich emotion system with fast reactions to events (the root our morality) - Aslower conscious system that interprets and makes sense of our behavior - Language and imitation as a source of learning - Cognitive and behavioral flexibility The Neurological Bases of Morality and Moral Judgment Do we know why we have the moral reactions that we experience? Our intuitive assumption is that our reactions are based on (or at least accessible to) our thoughts - Often not completely true doe… Our emotions are constructed through parts of our brains that are connected with, but largely separated from, areas that are linked to conscious thought - Alarge amount of brain activity is non-conscious (Most of our daily and everyday actions are unconscious and low involvement) - What we are aware of is the tip of the iceberg - We have strong and quick gut reactions about right and wrong; we aren’t getting them by thinking about things consciously - Part of our brains are making a calculation of what is good and bad The distinction between thoughts (cognition) and feelings (emotions) is long-standing “Passion” and “reasons”: Clear distinction in Enlightenment - Differing views of the relative value of each - In general, a negative view of emotion - Involved Descartes and other philosophers In psychology, Kohlberg’s famous model of moral development rests on children learning how think through moral dilemmas in more and more sophisticated ways - Kohlberg’s thought: Thinking and reasoning is what drives our level of morality and it influences how we make moral decisions - The difference now is that psychologists focus on how important our emotions are - Our emotion system is the root of our morality Brain evolved from the inside to the outside, and especially in the forebrain The integration between new and old brain is complex and not well understood, but at least some truth to “passion” vs. “reason” caricature - Central area of the brain is where a lot of our emotional processing begins! It is rooted in a lot of the central brain structures - Central area is considered more basic/older and the cortex (outer area) is considered more modern Prefrontal cortex is highly developed in humans Human prefrontal cortex is distinct by virtue of its rich connectivity (white matter) to the rest of the brain - The prefrontal cortex is incredibly connected throughout the brain but it’s the last to know! - Humans’prefrontal cortex is really big considered to other species - Thinking usually comes last…! Prefrontal cortex last to develop and first to unravel Without a well functioning prefrontal cortex, we are emotionally labile (unstable), unable to inhibit behavior - Self regulation “willpower” is an important element in moral behavior –Akey role for frontal cortex Interpreting our reactions and behavior is another important function of frontal cortex and it’s fully developed at the age of 18 Confabulation: Fictitious account that is believed in order to make sense of the situation Gazzaniga (famous neurologist) suggests that there is an “interpreter module” that does the job of integrating information from other brain areas, the body and observation of behavior and tries to make sense of it all - Arguably, everything we consciously think is a confabulation (sense-making) it’s just a question of degree of accuracy of inaccuracy - That’s actually the way all our brain is constructed; Confabulation is story telling Current state of neuroscience and psychology of human moral behavior and judgment Anew respect for the value of folk concepts of “intuition” and “gut reactions” - May reflect implicit, affective learning rather than being “stupid” - “Emotion” and “cognition” do reflect different brain systems o Each has a vital role to play o Emotion system – more likely to be fast, automatic, unconsciously generated o Cognition system – more likely to be slower, controlled, and conscious Traditional Views vs. New View of Morality Old View New View People use to reason to make moral judgments Emotional reactions are the source of morality Emotional reactions lead to bad judgments and Conscious thought important for: making sense of sometimes immoral behavior reactions, willpower, and planning, social coordination and learning (language and culture) Conscious thought comes second to our emotions Moral intuitions and emotions lead, not follow moral reasoning Consider the following: From Haidt et al. Moral intuitions study: WHY is it wrong to: - Roast and eat your pet dog after he has died of natural causes (People still think it’s wrong and not okay) - Clean your toilet with anAmerican flag (Why is it rationally wrong? Your emotions come first and the explanation comes second) - Cook and eat a chicken you have used as an object of sexual affection? (It’s our emotions that drive our sense of whether these things are right or wrong. Our explanations are hazy) Haidt’s “Social intutionalist” model of moral judgment People have strong moral reactions to many events Reasoning about why those events are “wrong” typically is… - Very slow compared to the emotional response - Prone to biases - Motivated to justify their emotions People can become “morally dumbfounded” - Sure that something is wrong but unable to explain why - When we reason and think consciously about right and wrong; it is very slow to follow in comparison to our emotional reactions - The deck of card analogy: Certain things are unavoidable and how we use them is flexible Emotions are the route to moral reactions Particularly important emotions are disgust, anger, and sympathy Example: Disgust and moral judgments - Zhong and Lilgenquist Gift Study: People made to contemplate (non-bodily) moral transgressions more likely to take gifts of hand sanitizer – When we make moral judgments, particular parts of our brain that are related to certain emotions will be connected to the event - Jones and fitness disgust sensitivity study: People higher in disgust sensitivity make harsher judgments of criminals are more likely to convict – Emotions are the starting point of morality Moral Reactions and Moral Storytelling Our moral reactions are guided by our gut reactions and the emotions that we feel in response to an event - But what guides those emotions? - And, once we have those emotional responses, how do we justify them? AQuick Overview of Human Evolution and Social Structure Hotel Rwanda: People have the tendency to dehumanize people not in our group – we could take things that they have or turn them into evil or an animal that could be killed without any remorse at all - The main character broadened his care from his family to the people of the hotel - Clinton neglected to mention the act of a genocide occurring by avoiding the use of that word as well Humans are group living primates We are part of a large group of mammals (~400) that are part of the order Primate - Common ancestor at root of order at 60 – 90 million years ago - Our family (hominidae) – split from other primates about 15 million years - Humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans - Closest relevance - Agood starting point is thinking about this at 90 million years ago as the start of the grouping of animals of the order of primate! Primate Evolution Old world monkeys  New world monkeys  Apes  Humans Hominidae Two important points about chimpanzee We did not evolve from chimpanzees (Pan) - We have fairly recent common ancestors which lived approximately 5 million years ago - There are two different species of chimps with a common ancestor approximately 1 – 2 million years ago o Common chimpanzee – Pan troglodyte o Bonobo – Pan paniscus Bonobos and common chimps have some very different social behaviors Common chimpanzees Bonobos Show much higher levels of aggression Use less violent means of conflict management Strong status competition with groups Female coordination to a greater degree Radically more violent behavior towards “stranger” Sexual behavior is a key component of conflict chimps resolution Males are more important in determining social Greater diversity of sexual behavior behavior in common chimps Geographic range of bonobos limited to the democratic republic of Congo Very small compared to the Africa continent size Our closest non-living relative is Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthals) Common ancestor about 500 thousand years ago Neanderthals and biologically modern humans overlapped for about 200k years Some interbreeding with ancestral humans Went extinct extremely recently at 30k years ago Used tools, diet consisted of meat, unclear use of language, and limited art Our closest biological relative even though they’re extinct and extremely similar to us! Ancestral humans were hunter gatherers Small bands of people and many related with a low population density (At one point, it was as few as 5k people) Scavenging as much or more than big game hunting - About 10 thousand years ago, the beginning of agriculture - About 5 thousand years ago, the beginning of cities, written language, and “modern” culture Some key features of hunter-gatherer culture Big risks: starvation and predation from large carnivores The group is important for starvation because if you aren’t capable of getting food, other people around you will most likely help you Most of the time, little benefit from risk of violent conflict with other groups of humans Some within group jockeying for social status (rank) - But, most hunter gatherer societies are decidedly egalitarian (equal) Avoiding ostracism (follow the group, don’t anger the others, be valued) Avoiding being taken advantage of (you need to pull your weight and return favors) Gaining status (but not inducing envy) Being wary of strangers - Aggression against other groups less common than imagined Humans are a social species Humans work and live in groups… Human life in ancestral environments: family, band structure, and ad hoc hunting or gathering groups Modern life… Human groups of many kinds: family, friends, work groups, national groups, and identity groups (race, gender, religion) Our first experience in groups is with our family Close attachments with caregivers set up our emotional networks for trust, empathy, and social connection Our understanding of how these connections are built has followed a familiar path - An historical derogation of the role of emotion - Arecent understanding of the biological basis of “soft” ideas of nurturing, love, sympathy and trust What was the “science of child-rearing” 50 years ago? Two major streams of scholarship dominated psychological approaches to child-rearing - Behaviorism (Watson, Skinner) - Psychoanalysis (Freudian Theory) How you relate to your parents as a child proceeds to your neurosis/how well they grow up later Both stressed the dangers of the “irrational” parental emotions of love and warmth, and the overindulgence of children with affection (Overly emotional with your kids would your child to have all sorts of problems….) Abehaviorist view of child rearing “Treat them as though they were young adults…. You will be utterly ashamed of the mawkish, sentimental way you have been handling it” – Watson - Don’t be too emotional or affectionate with your kid - You want to reward your kid only when they’ve done something Freud’s view of emotions of parental love and nurturance “Parental love, which is so touching and at bottom so childish, is nothing but parental narcissism” – Freud - The more distant you are to your children, the better they grow up to be more independent Two scholars turned the tide away from these “cool” anti-emotional approaches Bowlby (British) – Trained as a psychoanalyst and worked with orphaned children after WWII - Tried to apply what he knew about his training to help these orphans - Children had all they needed for bodily growth, but were often not “normal” o Findings: Some excessively needy and some emotionally detached o His finding is that Freud’s theory isn’t matching up to the reality at all! - Developed an important alternative to psychoanalytic theory (normative way) o Still stressed the importance of parents o But stressed normative biologically based process of “attachment to parents - Humans have an innate biological need for closeness, nurturing and attachment Harlow – Trained in the American experimental and behaviorist tradition - Moved to Wisconsin and had poor facilities - Ended up observing animals at the zoo - Began to observe things that just didn’t fit with what he would expect from a behaviorist perspective - He started to see behavior that he couldn’t fit into the behaviorist perspective - He launched a career to turn these observations of animal behavior into an experimental line of research and how it applied to humans The Harlow baby monkey study Infant Rhesus Macaque (monkeys) raised in captivity – primates who are more distantly removed from humans, biologically our 2 or 3 cousins compared to chimps being our 1 cousins) st Placed in a cage with a wire monkey that contained a feeding bottle from which the baby monkeys could nurse and also a terry cloth covered wire monkey that offered no milk Harlow observed the behavior of the baby monkeys and found that when not feeding, the babies spent most of their time clinging to the terry cloth monkey - Harlow’s research worked hand in hand with Bowlby’s theory of attachment - Ran very counter to then-current behaviorist approaches ( as well as psychoanalytic theory) - Behaviorist models would predict that the babies would spend time on the wire monkey because of the reinforcing quality of the milk bottle - The start of a large body of research indicating that for group-living primates (Rhesus monkeys or humans) nurturance may be an innate need - Nurturance is a building block (underlies our biological need) for normative behavior What Economic Games tell us about the logic of human social relations Game Theory and Economic “Games Game Theory builds off of set situations in which people have to interact with others and make decisions with minimal information Structure of the game recreates (in a stripped down format) problems that people face in social interactions - Precise and structured way to measure human behavior - Experimental game: the structure of the game itself can be set up to mimic and recreate something that’s elemental from everyday human life - Strip everything down so what’s left is the essential fundamental choice that people have to make in these situations Rational choice models of human behavior Models developed in economics that assume human behavior is rational and self-interested/selfish (maximizing) How well do these models of human behavior match reality? If there are deviations, do these result in “worse” outcomes? - Is “rationality” and self interest (in the narrow sense of these models) optimal? Key Examples of Experimental Games: Dictator Game (Game ofAltruism) Two participants, one given a pot of money and the right to distribute as they wish - No communication, receiver gets whatever the giver decides, no repeated interaction - Rational narrow self-interested response is to give zero to other person Key Examples of Experimental Games: Ultimatum Game (Game of Fairness/Cooperation) Invested in a common goal and splitting through rewards Same structure as dictator game except… - Receiver can “veto” the distribution in which case neither of them gets anything - Rational, narrow self-interested behavior
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