Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Moral Psychology
Korea University, Seoul, South Korea / 20th-22nd March 2014
conference scheduleposters
contact; pictures from the conference

Conference schedule and abstracts

The speaker's name links to the speaker's website. You can download as a pdf file .
Thursday, March 20
9:00 Welcoming Remarks
9:30 – 10:30 Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter Department of Philosophy, Duke University

Asch’s groundbreaking research stimulated a massive literature on social conformity, but only a few experiments in this tradition explore moral judgment. I will discuss these predecessors and then report our own survey results, which show how social conformity affects moral judgments even in impersonal internet settings. We also surprisingly found that moral conformity was increased by appeals to principles and rights more than by bare appeals to emotion. These findings have important implications for some popular theories in moral epistemology.

10:30 – 11:30 Choi, Jung-Kyoo School of Economics & Trade, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, South Korea

We conducted a public goods game experiment and found some evidence that a repeated play might have several detrimental effects on altruistic cooperation. Our results show that the decay of the contribution appears more pronounced in partner condition than in stranger condition, and that the average contribution levels during the last few rounds appear to be significantly lower in partner condition than in stranger condition. Furthermore when we had the subjects play another run of public goods games in the stranger condition in the consecutive phase, those who experienced the public goods game in the previous run in partner condition appeared to contribute significantly lower than those who completed the public goods game in stranger condition. We found that the subjects having played the game in partner condition were more negatively affected by bad experiences than those having played the game in stranger condition.

11:30 – 12:00 Tea & Coffee
12:00 – 1:00 Zhu, Liqi Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Sharing behavior is an important prosocial behavior. A few studies have examined developmental trends with the dictator game (DG) and ultimatum game (UG). Previous studies found an age effect that children offered more when they were getting older (Harbaugh, Krause, and Liday 2000; Harbaugh & Krause, 2000; Bettinger and Slonim, 2006), while we found that Chinese children showed different trajectory, when compared with German children. Chinese children aged 8 ys to 18 ys tended to offer less in the two economic games. The social background was discussed in the study to explain the result.

In a second study we further investigated even younger Chinese children. Participants were 3 to 8 years old preschoolers and school-age children, with the same method. Results showed that from 3 to 8 ys, Chinese children increased their offer as getting older, they were more likely to give a fair offer with age. Results of the two studies showed at the age of around 8 years old, Chinese children may reach their maximum fair preference, then it declines. In-group bias and the effect of theory of mind were explored to analyze the mechanism.

1:00 – 2:30 Lunch
2:30 – 3:30 Fessler, Daniel Department of Anthropology, UCLA

Moral judgment may have evolved to maximize the individual’s welfare given parochial culturally-constructed moral systems. If so, then moral condemnation should be more severe when transgressions are recent and local, and should be sensitive to the pronouncements of authority figures, who are often arbiters of moral norms. Correspondingly, moral transgressions should be viewed as less objectionable if they occur in other places or times, or if local authorities deem them acceptable. These predictions contrast with the prevailing perspective on moral judgment, which holds that adults view moral rules as universally applicable and independent of the opinions of authorities. We tested these predictions in five disparate small- scale societies and two disparate large-scale societies, finding substantial evidence of moral parochialism and contextual contingency in adults’ moral judgments.

3:30 – 4:30 Buchtel, Emma Department of Psychological Studies, Hong Kong Institute of Education

Confucianism emphasizes cultured behavior as a fundamental to moral excellence, while Western theories of moral cognition often assume that serious and harmful behaviors are immoral, not uncivilized ones. But “moral cognition” should occur when a person perceives a behavior as morally relevant. What kinds of behaviors do Chinese and Westerners morally condemn? In a series of studies, Chinese and Western laypeople generated examples of immoral behaviors, and we examined whether these behaviors were called immoral because they are especially harmful, versus especially uncultured. Large cultural differences suggest that Chinese moral condemnation is precipitated by the perception of incivility, and does not well-describe extremely serious behaviors such as murder; while for Westerners, immorality is more tightly linked to harm. The findings suggest that "moral cognition" may take multiple forms and may ultimately be an incoherent concept.

4:30 – 5:00 Tea & Coffee
5:00 – 6:00 Chao, Liu State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China
Moral purity in a Face Culture: Behavioral and Neural evidence
6:00 – 7:00 Kelly, Daniel Department of Philosophy, Purdue University

In this talk, I use recent research on the production and recognition of expressions of disgust to argue that the emotion is equipped with a proprietary signaling system. I flesh out the picture of this signaling system in light of a number of adaptive challenges that shaped the evolution of disgust, including those associated with cultural transmission and learning, social norms, and cooperation. Finally, I draw out some implications of this picture and the kinds of variation and disagreement it allows for perennial debates in moral philosophy.

Friday, March 21
9:00 – 9:30 Tea & Coffee
9:30 – 10:30 Greene, Joshua Department of Psychology, Harvard University

In this presentation I’ll present some of the main ideas from my book of the same title. First, there are two general kinds of moral problems: The original moral problem is the problem of cooperation, the “Tragedy of the Commons”—Me vs. Us. Distinctively modern moral problems are different. They involve what I call the “Tragedy of Commonsense Morality,” which is about conflicting values and interests across social groups—Us vs. Them. Second, there two general kinds of moral thinking: “fast” intuitive thinking that is efficient but inflexible, and “slow” moral reasoning that is flexible but inefficient. I’ll present evidence that intuitive thinking is good for solving more basic moral problems (Me vs. Us), but that we need “slow” moral thinking to handle modern moral problems (Us vs. Them).

10:30 – 11:30Kameda, Tatsuya Department of Behavioral Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan

Distributive justice concerns how societies should distribute resources in a moral manner. Although vigorously debated across many social science disciplines, the relationships between normative theories of distributive justice, actual choices, and cognition remain unclear. Using an attention-monitoring technique and functional magnetic resonance imaging, we examined behavioral and cognitive bases of John Rawls’s moral argument that distributive justice is fundamentally related to risky decision making via a focus on the least well-off position. We found that across participants with various ideological preferences, the greatest attention was spontaneously paid to how bad choice-outcomes could be; notably, activations of the right temporo-parietal junction (RTPJ), a region associated with self-projection as well as empathy, moral reasoning and altruistic behavior, reflected the degree of that concern for distribution and risky-decision tasks. These two fundamental, seemingly disparate decisions may be intertwined in the human mind, drawing on common cognitive processes with a spontaneous focus on the maximin criterion.

11:30 – 12:30 Basu, Jayanti Department of Applied Psychology, University of Calcutta

Vignettes used in Moral Psychology experiments are usually specific, related to contemporary situation, and mostly focus on one character. We found this trend problematic in the context of ancient civilizations like India, where culture consists of carrying down the vestiges of ancient traditions and tales in a subtle but overarching way. We desired to explore this multi-layered process of judging moral elements and moral conflict empirically by qualitatively analyzing the responses and examining ratings of thirty six participants to ten selected stories from the Mahabharata.

Only the preliminary analysis of a part of the data is presented here, and the advantages and disadvantages of using epics as source of vignettes are discussed. While the ratings did not appear to be particularly stable, the qualitative arguments were more informative hinting at a highly complex process of integrating emotion, reason and spontaneous intuition. The range of possible judgments for different participants could be defined from them, thus suggesting scope for selecting traditional elements relevant to contemporary living. The discussion of the findings suggest the need for questioning the meaning of culture and ecological validity of vignettes.

12:30 – 2:00 Lunch
2:00 – 3:00 Song, Hyun-Joo Department of Psychology, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea

The current talk includes two studies on infants’ sensitivity to others’ helping behaviors. The first study examined whether infants assume that people will help others to achieve a goal. Sixteen- month-old and 14-month-old infants watched familiarization events in which one agent (competent agent) succeeded in climbing hills whereas a second agent (an incompetent agent) failed to do so. In subsequent test events, the competent agent either helped the incompetent one to reach the top of the hill (helping event) or simply passed by the incompetent agent and reached the top of the hill alone (ignoring event). The infants looked reliably longer at the ignoring event than at the helping event, suggesting that they expected the competent agent to help the incompetent agent. The second experiment examined whether infants can infer others’ intentions to help or hinder another. Six- and 12-month-olds were first familiarized with both helping and hindering events. In the helping event, the helper pushed the circle toward the top of the hill and the movie stopped right before the circle arrived at the top. In the hindering event, the hinderer pushed the circle down the hill and the movie paused right before the circle fell onto the base of the hill. Thus, the movies did not show the final outcomes of the events. During the test trial, the circle approached either helper or hinderer. Infants’ looking times at the test trial suggest that both 6- and 12-month-old infants differentiated helping and hindering actions on the basis of the intentions. The findings are discussed in terms of implications for moral reasoning and social evaluation in infancy.

3:00 – 4:00 Fung, Heidi Institute of Ethnography, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan

My work concerns moral socialization—the process of constructing full-fledged culture-specific selves through daily interpersonal interactions and moral training practices. This process inevitably involves discipline or reprimand, which is often charged with affect. By conducting ethnographic and longitudinal observations in nine preschoolers’ homes in Taipei, Taiwan, my work demonstrates how the highlighted affective shame (xiu) was aroused as a tool to teach the moral sense of “knowing shame (chi).” In these recurrent discursive events, the child was portrayed in an unfavorable light, which put his or her self-esteem at risk and the parent-child bond endangered. Through analyzing these events in multi-layered social and cultural contexts, this work reveals what the ultimate socializing goal might be and how it was accomplished jointly by all participants, including the agentic novice, in a protective environment and a “balanced” manner grounded in the cultural ideology of filial piety.

4:00 – 5:00 Angner, Erik Departments of Philosophy & Economics & School of Public Policy, George Mason University

The purpose of this paper is to give a principled answer to the question of under what conditions measures of happiness or life satisfaction, understood as subjectively experienced mental states, can serve as proxies for well-being. According to a widely held view, measures of happiness and life satisfaction represent well-being because happiness and life satisfaction are constitutive of well-being. This position, however, is untenable. Efforts to address this question in terms of Amartya Sen’s capability approach have been similarly unsuccessful.

Instead, I argue, happiness and life satisfaction matter because, and insofar as, people want to be happy and/or satisfied; consequently, measures of happiness and life satisfaction can serve as measures of well-being whenever happiness is sufficiently correlated with or causally efficacious in bringing about greater preference satisfaction. While this position entails a less expansive view of the uses of happiness and life satisfaction measures, I maintain that if their proponents were to take this line, many of the objections to their enterprise can be met.

5:00 – 7:00 Poster Session & Light Refreshment
Saturday, March 22
9:00 – 9:30 Tea & Coffee
9:30 – 10:30 Rai, Tage Ford Center for Global Citizenship, Kellog School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA

How is it that people can disagree intensely about what is right, just, or fair? In this talk, I will argue that there are four distinct moral motives embedded in four fundamental strategies for socializing that capture the core of morality and sociality across cultures. I will then argue that moral diversity is ultimately due to the functional affordances of each social-relational strategy, which make each of them adaptive under different social- ecological conditions. As cultures and technologies change, social-ecological conditions shift, leading to corresponding shifts in the social-relational strategies cultures employ and the moral positions they ultimately adopt. I will conclude the talk by extending this analysis to understanding when people or cultures are more likely to engage in deontic versus utilitarian reasoning, when they rely on ‘sacred values’ and refuse to engage in taboo trade-offs, and when issues subjectively become ‘moral mandates’ rather than rules of convention.

10:30 – 11:30 Choi Bongyong Korea Aerospace University, & Han Gyuseog Department of Psychology, Chonnam National University

Based on the everyday practice of language and world view shared by Korean people, we propose a model of 4 stages morality development. Korean people have a holistic organismic world view where each player/being including human, animals, and inanimate things is a part and relates each other in harmony. At the first stage, individuals are only mindful of themselves and base their moral judgement serving self in egocentric way. At the second stage, individuals are aware of necessity of other people in we-group and base their moral judgement serving their ingroup and members. Some people advance to the third stage where individuals embrace other people unrelated to their immediate ingroup into we-group and base their judgement serving humanity. At the last stage, individuals recognize that every constituents of the whole system plays role of parts (‘chok’) and relate each other as such. Their moral judgement is based not on the person making decision but on the principle of serving each involved constituents to fulfill its integrity. This model provides a principle to act on for highest morality replacing the principles previously proposed, dissolving the impasse posed by post-modernistic critique of previous theories on morality, and presenting a new path to move beyond the stalemate posed by utilitarians and developmental discourses in human society.

11:30 – 12:00 Tea & Coffee
12:00 – 1:00 Machery, Edouard Department of History & Philosophy of Science, Univ. of Pittsburgh

That morality evolved is a commonplace among evolutionary biologists, psychologists, and anthropologists. In this talk, I will however argue that biologists, psychologists, and anthropologists have failed to pay enough attention to the differences between three distinct interpretations of the hypothesis that morality evolved. Under two of these interpretations, it is fairly uncontroversial that morality evolved, while under the third and most interesting interpretation, the hypothesis that morality evolved is empirically unsupported. Philosophical implications for meta-ethics will be considered. Cross-cultural pilot work about how norms are divided into distinct kinds across cultures will be briefly presented.

1:00 – 2:30 Lunch
2:30 – 3:30 Kim, Hackjin Deptartment of Psychology, Korea University

Why and how do we make decisions for others? How are decisions for others distinguished from those for oneself? The ability to accurately estimate another person’s preferences and to make prosocial choices for others, albeit not immediately related to one’s own profit, can be critical for establishing and maintaining successful social life in human society. In our lab, we recently found that the amygdala and the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC) were associated with value computations for oneself and for another, respectively, during risky financial decisions, which indicates fundamentally distinct neural processes involved in decisions for oneself and for other. In addition, when people make guesses about unfamiliar target individuals’ preferences for various items based only on a brief exposure to their appearances, increase in DMPFC activity predicted estimation accuracy. In both studies, DMPFC showed significant functional connectivity with the temporoparietal junction (TPJ), suggesting that its critical roles in making choices for others and in estimating others’ preferences seem to be achieved by its communications with a neural network involved in mentalization or theory of mind (ToM).

Does DMPFC activity then lead to altruistic/ prosocial decisions? We aimed to address this question in another study where people learned to make binary choices to maximize the benefits of either themselves or unfamiliar others. In this study, we found that activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) correlated more significantly with self- than other-regarding values, while the opposite was true for the DMPFC. In addition, this spatially segregated functional dissociation within the medial prefrontal cortex was more prominent among proself, compared to prosocial, individuals. To summarize, we present a tentative neural model of other-regarding choices that focuses on two segregated but intercommunicative decision systems: an intuitive and spontaneous value assessment system centering on VMPFC and the other more deliberative system involving DMPFC working together with TPJ.

3:30 – 4:30 Kim, Young-Hoon Department of Psychology, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea

Individuals from face cultures (e.g., Hong Kong, Korea) define and judge the self by information processed from a third-person (compared with a first-person) perspective, whereas individuals from dignity cultures (e.g., the United States) do so by information processed from a first- person (compared with a third-person) perspective. Across four experiments, we examined the cultural basis of East Asians’ morality from the perspective of face vs. dignity cultures.

In Study 1, we showed that Asian American participants were more likely to choose a hand wipe (rather than a pencil) as a gift for participating in the study when they were induced to think that others believed they had committed many (vs. a few) moral transgressions, but this effect did not hold when others were not invoked. In contrast, for Anglo-American participants, the opposite pattern was observed. That is, Anglo-American participants were more likely to choose a hand wipe only when others were not invoked. Studies 2 and 3 examined the extent to which East Asians’ moral behaviors were influenced by their perceptions of how they look from the perspective of others. We found that Korean participants engaged in immoral behaviors relatively more often when there was little possibility to lose “face” (social worth granted by others). Particularly, Korean participants cheated more often when they were alone (vs. with a confederate pretending to be a co-participant) and when they were with a confederate who cheated (vs. with a confederate who did not cheat). Study 4 tested how people’s concern for their physical appearance would affect their moral behavior. We found that Korean participants who were experimentally induced (vs. not induced) to believe that they were highly concerned with their physical appearance cheated more. These findings suggest different bases of morality across cultures.

4:30 – 5:00 Tea & Coffee
5:00 – 6:00 Zhu, Jing Department of Philosophy, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China

The phenomenon of social cooperation has been a puzzle for social sciences for several decades. Theories have been developed to address this issue in various ways, based on kinship, direct reciprocity, reputation-based indirect reciprocity, social norms, and ethnicity (Henrich & Henrich 2007). China has been a large-scale cooperative society for thousands years. In this talk, I show that the Confucius doctrine of filial piety and its embodiment in political, legal, and moral institutions and norms played a key role in promoting social cooperation in traditional Chinese society. Being filial obedient and respecting to one’s parents and senior members of family, serves as a costly signal to indicate cooperative and pro-social characters of a person, and in turn to facilitate social cooperation in many ways.

6:00 – 7:00 Stich, Stephen Department of Philosophy & Center for Cognitive Science, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ USA

The theory of norm psychology proposed by Sripada & Stich, and many other theories in which social learning plays a major role, suggests that people will often internalize norms that reduce their own biological fitness. It might be thought that no such psychological mechanism could possibly evolve. But that would be a mistake. In this talk I’ll explain why it was all but inevitable that natural selection would lead to norm psychology in our species, once we had acquired the ability to learn from one another. The account I’ll offer explains why many human norms foster cooperative or pro-social behavior. It also explains why many human norms lead to ethnic hatred and morally repugnant behavior. If the account is correct, these norms will be very difficult to dislodge, and robust cultural differences in norms are likely to be widespread.


  1. Sungwoo UM, PhD student, Duke University, Philosophy Department
    The Virtue of Modesty and Self-Evaluation: Modesty across Cultures
  2. Meng LI, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Colorado Denver
    Cross-national variation on age attitudes
  3. Natalia WASHINGTON (, graduate student, Department of Philosophy, Purdue University
    Culturally Unbound: Scientific Psychiatry and Cross-Cultural Cognitive Diversity
  4. Honghong TANG, Wenli ZHANG, Chao LIU, State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 100875, China
    Physical cleanliness harshen moral judgment in Face Culture
  5. Young-eun LEE and Hyun-joo SONG, Department of Psychology, Yonsei University, Korea
    Five-year-old children’s sensitivity to the needs of others in distributive justice
  6. Hyemin HAN Graduate School of Education, Stanford University, Gary H. Glover (Stanford University), & Changwoo Jeong (Seoul National University)
    Do Socio-Cultural Factors Influence on Moral Judgment at the Neural Level?
  7. Kyu Hee JUNG, Kaori Karasawa (Dept. of Psychology, Tokyo University)
    Subjective Happiness Decreases Schadenfreude Toward Both High and Average Achievers
  8. Koichi NAKASHIMA, Sapporo City University
    First-Person Authority of Decision-Maker
  9. Renatas BERNIUNAS, (Vilnius University, Lithuania), Paulo Sousa & Vilius Dranseika
    Are There Different Moral Domains: Evidence from Mongolia
  10. Xiao-xiao LIU (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) & Ying-yi HONG (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore & Beijing Normal University, China)
    Abusing Company Resources for Personal Ties: The Role of Work-Personal Spheres Overlapping
  11. Takaaki HASHIMOTO, Kaori KARASAWA (Dept. of Psychology, Tokyo University)
    The Relationship between Just World Beliefs and Moral Decision Making
  12. Tomoko ISHIDA, (Keio University, Tokyo Japan)
    Prototypic View of Moral Judgment
  13. Jinkwon JUN (Dept. of Philosophy, Seoul National University)
    Are the moral mechanisms modular?
  14. Tom WYSOCKI, Philosophy, Neuroscience & Psychology program, Washington University, St. Louis, MO USA
    What does it take to be normal?
  15. Jae-Ho Lee, (Dept. Psychology, Sogang University)
    Culture & Moral Foundations: Gender and Cultural Self-Orientation Differences in Korea
  16. Youngon Choi (Dept. Psychology, Chung-Ang University)
    The effect of observation frequency on 3-year-olds’ judgment of others’ truthfulness
  17. Jung Hyun Anna PARK (Graduate School of Innovation and Technology Management KAIST)
    A study on model similarity between Bayesian network models under the assumption of Positive Association
  18. Kyungjoon OH (Dept., Philosophy, Hanyang Univ.)
    Rethinking the empirical research of morality: the lack of criterion of establishing of moral state

A poster's maximal size: 120 cm wide and 180 cm high.

contact; pictures from the conference

Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Moral Psychology is sponsored by Korea University and the Rutgers University Research Group on Evolution & Cognition.

It was held on the campus of Korea University, Seoul, South Korea on March 20th, 21st and 22nd, 2014. For additional information on the event, please contact Prof. Hackjin Kim, Deptartment of Psychology, Korea University: , or Mr. Min Woo Lee, Deptartment of Psychology, Korea University: .