How Formal Models Can Illuminate Mechanisms of Moral Judgment and Decision Making

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Abstract

The cognitive and affective processes that give rise to moral judgments and decisions have long been the focus of intense study. Here, I review recent work that has used mathematical models to formally describe how features of moral dilemmas are transformed into decisions. Formal models have traditionally been used to study perceptual and value-based learning and decision making, but until recently they had not been applied to the study of moral psychology. Using examples from recent studies, I show how formal models can provide novel and counterintuitive insights into human morality by revealing latent subcomponents of moral decisions, improving prediction of moral behavior, and bridging moral psychology and moral neuroscience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-90
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)

Keywords

  • altruism
  • decision making
  • formal models
  • judgment
  • morality

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