Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Science makes you better morally - study

A study has been published that found thinking about science tends to lead to people being more moral.

According to research published PloS One the researchers tested four scenarios to show whether science made a difference to moral judgements.
The first study used 48 undergraduates, and presented them with a date-rape scenario, where they rated the action on a scale of 1 to 100 on how morally wrong it was (1 being fine, 100 being reprehensible). After answering the question, the group was asked how much they believed in science on a 1 to 7 scale.
This group was also coded for their fields of study - whether what they were studying was a science or not.
The people who studied sciences condemned the act more strongly than those who didn't, as did the people who believed more strongly in science.
The second used 33 undergraduates and the same scenario as the first, but this time they primed the students using a sentence game using scientific and nonscientific words.

Those primed with scientific words condemned the date-rape more severely.
In the third study 32 volunteers were given a series of pro-social (such as charity work) and distract or (like partying) activities  presented in a random order and asked which they intended to do. The ones who were primed with science were more likely to be pro-social than their non-scientific counterparts.
In the fourth and final study 43 participants were given five dollars and told to divide it amongst themselves and an anonymous other participant. The people who were primed with science kept less of it for themselves, and gave more to the anonymous other person.
While the researchers cautioned that there were limitations to their methodology and further study is required, they concluded that, "taken together, the present results provide support for the idea that the study of science itself–independent of the specific conclusions reached by scientific inquiries–holds normative implications and leads to moral outcomes."

Source: Times, SA
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