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posted on 2018-02-23, 04:17 authored by Michael A. Moncrieff, Pierre Lienard

Our research brings to light features of the social world that impact moral judgments and how they do so. The moral vignette data presented were collected in rural and urban Croatian communities that were involved to varying degrees in the Croatian Homeland War. We argue that rapid shifts in moral accommodations during periods of violent social strife can be explained by considering the role that coordination and social agents' ability to reconfigure their social network (i.e., relational mobility) play in moral reasoning. Social agents coordinate on (moral) norms, a general attitude which broadly facilitates cooperation, and makes possible the collective enforcement of compliance. During social strife interested parties recalibrate their determination of others' moral standing and recast their established moral circle, in accordance with their new or prevailing social investments. To that extent, social coordination—and its particular promoters, inhibitors, and determinants—effects significant changes in individuals' ranking of moral priorities. Results indicate that rural participants evaluate the harmful actions of third parties more harshly than urban participants. Coordination mediates that relationship between social environment and moral judgment. Coordination also matters more for the moral evaluation of the harmful actions of moral scenarios involving characters belonging to different social units than for scenarios involving characters belonging to the same group. Participants high in relational mobility—that ability to recompose one's social network—moralize similarly wrongdoings perpetrated by both in- and out-group members. Those low in relational mobility differentiate when an out-group member causes the harm. Additionally, perceptions of third-party guilt are also affected by specifics of the social environment. Overall, we find that social coordination and relational mobility affect moral reasoning more so than ethnic commitment.