The role of generalizability in moral and political psychology

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 45:e19 (2022)
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Abstract

The aim of the social and behavioral sciences is to understand human behavior across a wide array of contexts. Our theories often make sweeping claims about human nature, assuming that our ancestors or offspring will be prone to the same biases and preferences. Yet we gloss over the fact that our research is often based in a single temporal context with a limited set of stimuli. Political and moral psychology are domains in which the context and stimuli are likely to matter a great deal (Van Bavel, Mende-Siedlecki, Brady, & Reinero, 2016). In response to Yarkoni (see BBS issue), we delve into topics related to political and moral psychology that likely depend on features of the research. These topics include understanding differences between liberals and conservatives, when people are willing to sacrifice someone to save others, the behavior of political leaders, and the dynamics of intergroup conflict.

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