Motivating the Self to Virtue in Western and non-Western Countries: Does Nation or Faith Matter More in the Development of the Moral Self?
Kord Noghabi, Rasool
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‘Self’ has long been a contested term within psychology and religion; however, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism all acknowledge that individuals struggle to embody narratives of a virtuous life—a life motivated to do good, avoid the bad, escape suffering, and help others to do the same. Our international interdisciplinary team plans to interview people from 4 faith conditions (Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and agnostic), in 3 countries (Canada, Iran, and Korea) about their understanding of virtue and how they might attempt to achieve virtue in their own lives. We will also invite participants to comment on classic stories of wisdom in these 3 religious traditions in all 3 countries, acknowledging that these faiths do not regard selves entirely in isolation but see them as needing support from faithful communities. Finally, participants will complete a wis-dom simulation. Although each country contains citizens of different religious faiths, national holidays show that Canada is administratively a Christian nation, Korea is a Buddhist nation and Iran is an Islamic nation. Participants will be invited to give examples of someone they know personally who is living a virtuous life and how they find two kinds of motivation to do so: (1) proximal (e.g., resisting temptation), and (2) lifespan developmental (e.g., daily mindfulness mediation or prayer, or through some deep religious insight, such as Buddhist Satori or Christian Grace). We will also ask participants for examples of their own virtuous behavior and their motivation to virtue. In Study 1, participants will come from two age groups at opposite ends of adulthood, with potentially very different views of the motivations that inspire a virtuous self: (1) emerging adults (age 18-25) and (2) retired older adults (age 60-80) (N=480). Study 2 will further explore these issues with religious authorities in each country, with psychotherapists considered agnostic authorities (N=120). All interviews and coding will be in the official language of each country (Farsi in Iran, English in Canada, Korean in Korea), with coding and analysis overseen by a native speaker of that language on the research team. However, critical incidents and key examples of themes will be translated into English for commentary by the whole team. The goal is to explore the cultural determinants and universality of virtue, and whether understandings of virtue are more commonly shared within national cultures or within religious faiths (i.e., whether Ca-nadian Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and non-religious participants have more in common on the basis of being Canadian, or whether Christians in Iran, Canada, and Korea are more alike based on being Christian and striving to live a life of Christian virtue).
- Moral Self Archive