Monday (Football) Madness

Given how far into my PhD I am, how many papers I've been reading lately, and how much work is getting done in the whole lab, I really should have something serious and moral psych related to write about.

But, all I can think about is football. (Or "soccer", for the Australians/Americans reading. :) ) Of course it's the World Cup that tipped me over the edge this week (Bosnia v Argentina this morning, to be precise), but I'm not a complete tourist to the game - for almost two years I've been playing on average twice a week; casual games at uni or in the park where everyone joins in and the talent level ranges from mediocre (me) to awesome (I won't embarrass anyone by naming them here). It's fun, but it's also more than that. Google Image "football quotes life", and you'll probably see what I mean!

To not get toooo far off the topic of morality though, I thought I'd steal an idea from Nick Haslam, who wrote about the World Cup last week: The Eight Great Traits of World Cup Champions. That article says it all as far as football is concerned, but each of those Eight Great Traits also have implications for morality, and in this (slightly procrustean) way I can keep thinking about football, and (hopefully!) be informative about morality at the same time.

The relationship between money and morality has been investigated in a couple of recent experimental papers. Here, Kouchaki, Smith-Crowe, Brief and Sousa (2013)show that "mere exposure to money can trigger unethical intentions and behavior", and here Gino and Mogilner (2014) look at the effect of shifting a focus from money to time.

Instead of just thinking about climate, let's think about climate change. In this excellent review, Markowitz and Shariff (2012) outline six reasons why climate change poses such a big challenge to our moral judgment system (as they put it). The nice thing about it is that they also propose some strategies to deal with those challenges!

Okay, here I might have to diverge from my original plan - the only way I can seem to link geography to morality is metaphorically: Sam Harris has written a book called The Moral Landscape, and Janoff-Bulman and Carnes have a great review article with a similar title here.

This one is easy though - many moral psychologists are interested in explaining cross-cultural variation in morality, as well as more local "culture wars".

"History" gets mentioned most commonly (perhaps) in moral psychology when the authors are making a point about moral relativism - e.g. "slavery used to be considered okay!" - but as a variable predicting moral judgment we might have to link it through psychological distance. Here is a paper by Eyal, Liberman and Trope (2008) suggesting that moral principles are more easily applied to distant behaviours, rather than contextualised situations.

Liberal and conservative morality has been written about extensively, but here is paper about a third group of apparently political people: libertarians. Interesting? I'll leave that for you to decide.

Fairness is one of the five moral foundations of Haidt and colleagues, as related to reciprocity and justice. There's lots more to be said about that of course, but on a slight tangent (thinking about equality -> inequality -> rich and poor), I found this article about material resources: Pitesa and Thau (2014) show that low income is linked to harsher moral judgments.

I don't know if population growth has been studied at all in moral psychology, but it's definitely a topic that raises a lot of moral concerns. Here's an article from Eureka Street (2009), and an older (!) curiosity by Margaret Sanger from 1921 about birth control.

Football = morality = life
There you have it - 8 important variables for football, turn out to also have some relevance for morality. Therefore, football is morality, and I can count my hours of watching world cup games as work. QED. ;)

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