Moral psychology is relationship ...
Moral Psychology Is Relationship Regulation: Moral Motives for Unity, Hierarchy, Equality, and Proportionality Tage Shakti Rai and Alan Page Fiske University of California, Los Angeles Genuine moral disagreement exists and is widespread. To understand such disagreement, we must examine the basic kinds of social relationships people construct across cultures and the distinct moral obligations and prohibitions these relationships entail. We extend relational models theory (Fiske, 1991) to identify 4 fundamental and distinct moral motives. Unity is the motive to care for and support the integrity of in-groups by avoiding or eliminating threats of contamination and providing aid and protection based on need or empathic compassion. Hierarchy is the motive to respect rank in social groups where superiors are entitled to deference and respect but must also lead, guide, direct, and protect subordinates. Equality is the motive for balanced, in-kind reciprocity, equal treatment, equal say, and equal opportunity. Proportionality is the motive for rewards and punishments to be proportionate to merit, benefits to be calibrated to contributions, and judgments to be based on a utilitarian calculus of costs and benefits. The 4 moral motives are universal, but cultures, ideologies, and individuals differ in where they activate these motives and how they implement them. Unlike existing theories (Haidt, 2007 Hauser, 2006 Turiel, 1983), relationship regulation theory predicts that any action, including violence, unequal treatment, and ���impure��� acts, may be perceived as morally correct depending on the moral motive employed and how the relevant social relationship is construed. This approach facilitates clearer understanding of moral perspectives we disagree with and provides a template for how to influence moral motives and practices in the world. Keywords: moral, social justice, culture, fairness, violence In 2006, Zahra al-Azzo was kidnapped and raped near her home in Damascus, Syria. Following her safe return, her older brother stabbed and murdered her in her sleep. In response to his killing her, Zahra���s family held a large celebration that night. According to the United Nations Population Fund, 5,000 similar ���honor killings��� occur each year. (Zoepf, 2007) Around the world, people have disparate beliefs and practices related to responsibility, revenge, taboos, violence, and acceptable lifestyles. Faced with such extensive diversity and disagreement about what is right, just, necessary, or fair, we must consider the bases for these competing judgments and behaviors. Is there a theory of moral psychology that can account for the sense of obligation felt by Zahra Al-Azzo���s family in killing her and their subsequent celebration of it and the horror, outrage, and shock experienced by most Western readers who hear such stories? In the present paper, we argue that to elucidate the bases for moral judgment, we must abandon the assumption that moral judgments are based on features of actions independent of the social-relational contexts in which they occur (e.g., Did the action cause harm? Was the action unfair? Was the action impure?). Rather, we must reconceptualize moral psychology as embedded in our social-relational cognition, such that moral judgments and behaviors emerge out of the specific obligations and transgressions entailed by particular types of social relationships (e.g., Did the action support us against them? Did it go against orders from above? Did you respond in kind?). In so doing, it will become evident that moral intuitions are not based on asocial principles of right actions, such as prohibitions against intentionally causing harm (Hauser, 2006 Mikhail, 2007 Turiel, 1983) and inequality (Turiel, 1983) or concerns with ���purity��� (Haidt, 2007). Rather, moral intuitions are defined by the particular types of social relationships in which they occur. In its strongest form, a social- relational approach to moral psychology posits that the moral status of actions cannot be determined independent of the social- relational contexts in which they take place. Rather, any given action will be judged as right, just, fair, honorable, pure, virtuous, or morally correct when it occurs in some social-relational con- texts and will be judged as wrong when it occurs in other social- relational contexts. By integrating moral psychology into social-relational cogni- tion, we unify findings and theory from moral, cultural, develop- mental, and social psychology to provide insight into social- Tage Shakti Rai, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles Alan Page Fiske, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles. Preparation of this paper was supported by the UCLA���National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship In- terdisciplinary Relationship Science Program. We thank Jonathan Haidt, Paul Rozin, and Piotr Winkielman for their valuable comments on an earlier version of this paper. We are also grateful to Clark Barrett, Matthew Gervais, Kathryn Hale, Martie Haselton, Keith Holyoak, Benjamin Karney, Anne Peplau, Katinka Quintelier, Sven Waldzus, and the Relational Mod- els Theory International Lab for their support and guidance. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Tage Shakti Rai, University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Psychol- ogy, 1285 Franz Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Psychological Review �� 2011 American Psychological Association 2011, Vol. 118, No. 1, 57���75 0033-295X/11/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0021867 57
relational evaluation, cooperation, conflict, and violence. A theory of moral psychology should provide a framework for understand- ing judgments of virtue, notions of fairness, systems of justice, in-group favoritism and out-group hostility, care and apathy, prej- udice, loyalty, leadership and followership, approach���avoidance, and moralized forms of violence, such as spanking, whipping, capital punishment, revenge, torture, honor killing, and genocide. Our social-relational approach to moral psychology predicts that (a) there are distinct moral motives, obligations, and violations that correspond to four basic types of social relationships and that (b) constituting different social-relational models evokes their corre- sponding moral motives and evaluations. Whereas other approaches assume there are bases to moral judgment whose expression may be biased by social-relational context, we begin by drawing on the immense body of literature on social relationships to identify the basic kinds of relationships people perceive and construct that determine the morally required response in a given situation. Subsequently, we analyze the distinct obligations and transgressions that each type of social relationship entails to yield four fundamental moral motives underlying our social-relational psychology: Unity, Hierarchy, Equality, and Pro- portionality. This social-relational approach leads to the insight that universality in moral psychology results from all individuals in all cultures basing their moral judgments and behaviors on the same set of moral motives for regulating social relationships. Diversity in moral judgment, emotion, motivation, and behavior results from individuals, institutions, ideologies, and cultures em- ploying different social-relational models or different implemen- tations of the same models in any given domain of life. By taking a social-relational approach, we will find that some deep moral disagreements reflect genuinely different moral posi- tions embedded in social relationships, groups, practices, institu- tions, and cultures and cannot simply be attributed to differences in knowledge or logical reasoning among competing parties. Conse- quently, there are legitimate moral perspectives that cannot be directly or systematically reconciled with each other. (For similar claims, see Berlin, 1969 Bolender, 2003 Fiske, 1990 Goldman, 1993 Harman, 1996 Wong, 1984, 2006.) Philosophers commonly accept a version of such moral pluralism in the trade-off between principles of upholding rights and preventing harm. The present paper argues for a different kind of pluralism based on the distinct kinds of social relationships that people perceive, construct, sanc- tion, resist, and seek to sustain or terminate. As a consequence, this approach predicts that some acts and practices that some people perceive as evil actually have a moral basis in the psychology of the people who commit them. We do not have to condone these practices, but if we are to have any hope of opposing them, we do have to understand them for what they are: morally motivated acts, not simply errors in judgment, limitations of knowledge, or fail- ures of self-control. The Need for a Social-Relational Morality Post-Enlightenment philosophical approaches to morality em- phasize that moral judgments ought to be based on principles that are abstract, logical, and universal and thus independent of an individual���s social position, personal relationships, or future inter- personal consequences (Kant, 1785/1989 Rawls, 2005 for a re- view, see Kramnick, 1995). Cognitive���developmental, rationalist, and some empiricist approaches to scientific moral psychology work within this framework. As a consequence, in describing moral judgments they make a conceptual distinction between moral intuitions or reasoning, on the one hand, and the social biases that may distort expression of such judgments, on the other (for a similar critique, see Miller & Bersoff, 1992 for a review of how morality became distinct from social-relational context in philosophy, see MacIntyre, 2007 in psychology, see Haidt, 2008). Thus, when Piaget (1932/1965) observed young children judg- ing that certain actions in the game of marbles were wrong because they imagined authorities said so, while older children generated their own rules as a group, he assumed that young children���s behavior was due in part to social constraints, such as lack of freedom to generate their own rules, and that egalitarian values would emerge in the absence of such social biases. Kohlberg (1981) used responses to hypothetical moral dilemmas to argue that individuals��� moral development progressed from an orienta- tion of avoiding punishment toward a respect for social contracts and eventually to the discovery of universal ethical principles. Deviations from this progression were thought to be due to ���non- moral��� biases, such as social pressure (Colby & Kohlberg, 1987 Krebs & Denton, 2005). The social-interactionist perspective (Nucci & Turiel, 1978 Smetana, 1981 Turiel, 1983 Turiel, Killen, & Helwig, 1987) is founded on a distinction between social conventions and moral judgments. Social conventions, such as raising your hand in class or wearing a school uniform, are context specific, authority dependent, and rule contingent. In contrast, moral judgments, such as the perception that hitting a classmate is wrong, are based on rules that are universal, independent of authority, and intrinsically linked to concerns with preventing harms and upholding equal rights and justice. Failures to uphold these principles (e.g., in-group favoritism) are attributed to inad- equate intergroup experiences, coercive cultural institutions, or mistaken beliefs of previous generations (Killen, Margie, & Sinno, 2006). By adopting this distinction between moral psychology per se and the social influences that distort moral judgment, the cognitive���developmental and rationalist approaches to moral psy- chology largely separated themselves from social psychological studies of prescriptively immoral real-world behaviors and anthro- pological findings regarding diverse moral practices across cul- tures. Interested in how Nazi officers could commit inhumane acts during World War II, Milgram (1963) found that some participants would obey an authority figure even if they believed they were administering potentially deadly electric shocks to another person. Interested in understanding how people treated those from differ- ent groups, Tajfel, Billig, Bundy, and Flament (1971) demon- strated that even minimal information about group membership, such as participants��� art preferences, could result in the choice to maximize the differences between the rewards given to the in- group relative to the out-group, rather than to maximize total rewards for everyone. At the same time, anthropologists and historians have identified vast differences in moral attitudes across cultures and time. For example, in the context of sex and gender, is it morally permissible for people of the same gender, or of different races, to have sexual relations, and should they have the right to marry? May people engage in sexual relations simply for pleasure, or should sex be restricted to marriage? Should men and women choose whom they 58 RAI AND FISKE
marry, or should their elders choose for them? In marriage, does sex have to be a joint choice, or can one spouse compel the other? Should men or women be allowed to have multiple spouses simul- taneously? Should women have equal rights in relationships with men, or should men have complete authority over their daughters, sisters, and wives? These are questions that elicit strong moral judgments and little consensus cross-culturally. Yet, by distin- guishing between moral judgment and the social-relational context in which it takes place, we must attribute variation in judgments and behaviors to ���nonmoral��� social or selfish biases, such as the relationships among the people involved, the influences of cultural institutions, or differences in cognitive and emotional development that bias an individual���s ability to articulate and follow ���true��� moral judgments. Morality Embedded in Social Relationships The a priori categorization of social-relational context as sepa- rate from bases for moral judgment is ironic, given the rich history in social psychology of demonstrating the influence of context in nearly every aspect of social behavior and cognition (S. T. Fiske & Taylor, 1984 Ross & Nisbett, 1991). For example, even if helping is cognitively salient, individuals are less likely to help a stranger if they are preoccupied with another social obligation (Darley & Batson, 1973). Likewise, cognitive psychologists and behavioral economists have demonstrated that nearly all reasoning and judg- ment depends deeply on the framing of the problem or decision and that genuine preferences may not even exist in the abstract but, rather, are constructed relative to particular contexts (Gilovich & Griffin, 2002 Kahneman & Tversky, 1984 Slovic, 1995 Thaler, 1999). For example, in moral dilemmas designed to contrast de- ontological with utilitarian reasoning, preferences change depend- ing on whether options are framed in terms of lives saved or lost, or depending simply on the order in which moral dilemmas are encountered (Haidt & Baron, 1996 Petrinovich & O���Neill, 1996 Rai & Holyoak, 2010). Finally, evolutionary analyses of cooper- ation have shown that propensities to act morally only evolve (whether by biological or cultural selection) if they are responsive to the specific interactive strategies and prospects of social part- ners and if they take into account reputational consequences and the likelihood of third party punishment (Boyd & Richerson, 1992 Gintis, Bowles, Boyd, & Fehr, 2003, 2005). The literature in social, cognitive, and evolutionary psychology suggests moral psychology may be inseparable from its social- relational context. In the remainder of the paper, we propose a theory of moral psychology in which moral motives, judgments, sanctions, redress, emotions, and actions are embedded in social- relational models for living in groups. We consider the various types of social relationships people seek and perceive and the distinct moral obligations and transgressions these relationships entail. From this perspective, our sense of morality functions to facilitate the generation and maintenance of long-term social- cooperative relationships with others (Fiske, 2002, 2010a Frank, 1988 Joyce, 2006). As a consequence, fundamentally different types of social relationships will entail fundamentally different moralities. We refer to this approach as relationship regulation. It is pred- icated on the notion that in any relationship individuals are pre- sented with opportunities for exploiting or otherwise taking ad- vantage of their relational partners for any number of reasons (e.g., short-term temptations, shortsighted selfishness) in ways that vio- late models for social relationships. Actions that violate the social- relational model that participants and observers are using are thereby immoral. In order for relationships to function, people need competing motives that lead them to regulate and sustain social relations by controlling their own behavior and sanctioning others without such relationship-regulating motives, relationships would collapse. Thus, relationship regulation theory (RR) posits that the core of our moral psychology consists of motives for evaluating and guiding one���s own and others��� judgments and behaviors (includ- ing speech, emotions, attitudes, and intentions) with reference to prescriptive models for social relationships. Failing to behave in accord with relational prescriptions is considered a moral transgres- sion and leads to emotions such as guilt, shame, disgust, envy, or outrage. These emotions proximally motivate sanctions including apologies, redress and rectifications, self-punishment, and modulation of or termination of the relationship. Moral psychology also encom- passes concerns about and obligations to others with whom one has relationships, together with associated positive emotions such as com- passion, loyalty, and awe. We use the term motive to indicate that our moral psychology provides not only the relevant moral evaluations but also the motivational force to pursue the accompanying behaviors that are required to regulate and sustain relationships (for an earlier use of ���moral motive��� in psychology see Janoff-Bulman & Sheikh, 2006). Although the motives tacitly guide moral judgments and actions, we do not necessarily expect people to be able to spontaneously explicate their judgments in terms of the moral motives or endorse these judgments upon conscious reflection, as they might for explicitly held, ideologically articulated moral principles (Cushman, Young, & Hauser, 2006 Uhlmann, Pizarro, Tannenbaum, & Ditto, 2009 see Levy, 1973, on hypo/ hypercognition). In addition to being cognizant of moral motives that are neces- sary to maintain functioning social relationships, people must be attuned to individual characteristics that make people good pros- pects as relationship partners in some or all types of relationships. Virtues, such as honesty, wisdom, and kindness, and vices, such as laziness, insensitivity, and recklessness, are quasi-moral (Miller, 2008) traits that are not tied to particular moral motives but are important for evaluating the social-relational potential of other individuals. Diligence, self-control, attentiveness, and energy are traits that improve the prospects for fruitful and rewarding rela- tionships with individuals, while their stupidity, forgetfulness, and lack of self-control detract from them. Other virtues and vices may be somewhat specific to particular types of relationships: A quick- thinking person may make a good military leader, while someone who fails to adequately pay attention to details may not be a good person to choose as your accountant. But all virtues and vices affect others��� motivation to form or sustain social relationships. Moreover, their valence may change depending on particular so- ciohistorical circumstances and contexts. In some times and places, frugality may be quite a virtue, while in other times and places it is most morally praiseworthy to ���live to the fullest��� by spending, consuming, and giving lavishly. In short, virtues and vices form a penumbra around moral motives, per se. 59 MORAL PSYCHOLOGY IS RELATIONSHIP REGULATION