Motivating Virtuous Selves: The Impact of Gender and Culture
MetadataShow full item record
The self is defined differently both across and within disciplines and cultures. The traditional Western view of self as an ethical or economic subject is challenged by process philosophers as misplaced and by feminists as incomplete. Multicultural approaches call for a socially-situated self, but even this approach fails Buddhist no/not-self or Daoist selflessness. This philosophical concern parallels psychological studies of identity that have demonstrated different performance results following reminders of personal identity aspects (priming). However, these psychological studies suggest an approach that may avoid the philosophical definitional difficulties. Components, or characteristics, of identity may be evaluated for their tendency to motivate virtuous action in individuals who hold differing views of self. This focus on the components of personal identity shifts the conversation from an ontological deadlock to the efficacy of specific interventions. It also facilitates cross-cultural approaches to applied ethics in fields such as business, medicine or research, where international and interdisciplinary teams are common. Our project invites adults of varying ethnicities and genders to participate in an online adventure. After completing a brief survey with priming questions, they choose their character (avatar) and adventure. Participants then make ethical decisions in virtual narratives and maintain weekly journals. The methodology uses online role-playing, interactive technology, journal textual analysis and data collection technology. As the study will be conducted in the heavily-diversified population of the Hawaiian Islands and beyond, the experiment will have the benefit of comparing eastern and western cultures. We expect to find that people make different ethical calls depending on whether they are primed for gender or culture. We will also explore whether one personal identity component is stronger than the other in motivating virtuous decisions. This project will both extend and add a comparative dimension to research on psychological priming, philosophy of self, virtue, and ethical behavior.
- Moral Self Archive