The role of social presence on moral decision-making : realistic settings for the understanding of utilitarian and deontological preferences

01 February 2024 → 31 January 2026
European funding: framework programme, Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Human experimental psychology not elsewhere classified
Other information
Project description

In our modern societies, moral situations often refer to saving, hurting, condemning, or sparing peers. The direction of our moral preferences (e.g. utilitarian, deontological) is inherently shaped by social norms and social context. However, current experimental research on moral cognition suffers from two main limitations. First, while a wealth of research has examined individual’s moral preferences in single settings, no research to our knowledge has examined individual’s moral preferences in real-life social settings. Second, because of the long-standing paradigm involving the use of hypothetical and sacrificial dilemmas to measure decision-making (i.e. save or sacrifice lives), we assume there is a discrepancy between hypothetical and realistic moral decision-making. Compared to the current state-of-the-art, YourMORALS will allow for the first time to assess the role of social presence on individual’s moral preferences, shedding light on both cognitive and neural processes underlying responses to realistic scenarios. This research will combine behavioural and neurophysiological paradigms by using a unique experimental system allowing to mimic social context through dyadic interactions. The proposed experiments will permit to clarify the role of social presence through, 1) indirect exposition to other’s moral choices (single setting), 2) direct presence of other (social setting). The latest innovative EEG-based hyperscanning techniques will be used to measure multiple brains’ activity. We will also construct an open, standardized and realistic moral dilemmas dataset.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Executive Agency (REA). Neither the European Union nor the authority can be held responsible for them.