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Mind Perception and Morality Lab at UNC, Directed by Kurt Gray

时间:2014-01-29 09:55:13  来源:  作者:

http://www.mpmlab.org/

Is torture justifiable? Should murderers receive the death penalty? Does a person in a persistent vegetative state deserve moral rights? While such questions may have no objective answer, understanding how people answer them not only illuminates basic social psychological processes but helps us to decide issues when lives hang in the balance.
The Mind Perception and Morality Lab, under the direction of Prof. Kurt Gray, is in the Department of Psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The lab investigates moral judgments and how people perceive the minds of others. Linking mind perception and morality can help explain why people debate torture, why they believe in God and how good (and evil) deeds can make people physically more powerful.

Research conducted by MPM lab members has been featured in the New York Times, the Economist, the National Post, Harvard Magazine, the Boston Globe and at two TED events (click to see TED talk).

 



What is the structure of morality? Lab research suggests that good and evil require (at least) two people, one person to do the harm, and one person to receive it. The person who does the harm - the agent - is perceived in terms of blame, while the person who receives the harm - the patient - is perceived in terms of pain. Thus morality is dyadic, equaling Blame + Pain. Boston Globe coverage. (article)


How can good deeds make us powerful? When we think of Superman, one image comes to mind--someone capable of doing heroic feats of strength. Lab research finds that engaging in good deeds can increase a person's tenacity and personal power. Interesting, evil deeds make us at least as powerful, if not more. See the TED talk. (article)


Why are humanoid robots so creepy? The unnervingness of humanoid robots--called the Uncanny Valley--arises because human faces make people think robots have the capacity for emotions (e.g., love) and we are loathe to think robots have this mental ability. Likewise, people are averse to the idea of people without emotions, such as zombies.
The Economist coverage. (article)


How does pain (and pleasure) depend on the intentions of other people? Pain was initially thought to be only physical, but it seems to respond to psychological variables. Lab research finds that intentions matter. Identical shocks hurt more when given maliciously. Massages also feel better when given benevolently, and food tastes better when made with love. The Economist coverage. (article)


Why do people believe in God? There are many reasons why people believe in God, but lab research suggests that suffering increases belief. People are used to having other people to blame for their plight but when another person to blame cannot be found, they look to the ultimate agent - God. Support for this idea comes from the high correlation between suffering and religious belief in the US. (article)


How do we view vegetative patients? Biologically, people in a persistent vegetitative state (PVS) exist somewhere between life and death. Lab research reveals, however, that people see PVS patients as "more dead than dead" because of dualism--psychologically separating mind and body. PVS patients are seen as mindless bodies, whereas the dead are seen as bodiless minds. The Economist coverage. (article)


How does nakedness change how people see our minds? The simple act of taking off a sweater can change how people see your mind. Traditionally, scholars have thought that naked people are stripped of all mind (dementalized) and seen as objects (objectification). Our research suggests, however, that showing skin makes you seem less capable of acting, but more capable of feeling and sensing. Nakedness=experience. Wired coverage. (article)

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