• Charity
  • Moral decisions
  • Compassion
  • Compassion

Current Directions

Presently, the Iowa Morality Lab is working on a number of projects. For short and accessible introductions to the lab's research, read the following op-ed for the New York Times Gray Matter column, "Empathy is Actually a Choice", and the following blog post on Emotion News:  "What is the relationship between emotions and morality?"  Here is a selected sample of our projects:

(1) Why do people respond with apathy to mass suffering, as with genocides, epidemics, and child refugees?

(2) Why do people dehumanize--or deny mental states to--stigmatized groups such as drug addicts and homeless individuals? 

(3) What is the relationship between compassion and racial prejudice?

(4) Do patients with ventromedial prefrontal cortex damage show changes in automatic and/or controlled moral judgments?

The Lab Group (Spring 2016)

Lab Group Spring 2016

Midwestern Psychological Association Spring 2015

About the Lab

Welcome to the Iowa Morality Lab, directed by Dr. Daryl Cameron.  Our laboratory studies the affective and motivational mechanisms involved in empathy and moral decision-making.  First, we study when and why people feel and act empathically in response to others.  This research focuses on motivational factors that cause people to either down-regulate or up-regulate empathy for others, as well as emotion regulation mechanisms (e.g., reappraisal, situation selection, attention allocation) that shape empathic outcomes.  Second, we use implicit measurement and mathematical modeling to assess individual differences in moral intuitions about harmful actions and actors, and in empathy for the pain of others.  This work utilizes implicit measures that bypass self-report (e.g., sequential priming, affect misattribution) and analytical techniques (e.g., process dissociation, multinomial modeling) that formally model latent processes which interact to cause behavior.  Third, we draw upon constructionist models of the mind to understand how moral judgments emerge from domain-general component processes of affect, conceptual knowledge, and attention.  Our lab examines these questions across the lifespan, and both with healthy adults as well as clinical samples (e.g., lesion patients), incarcerated samples (e.g., psychopathic offenders), and applied samples (e.g., healthcare workers).  Our lab utilizes insights and methodologies from affective science, implicit social cognition, and moral philosophy.


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