A cognitive developmental approach to morality: investigating the psychopath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

829 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Various social animal species have been noted to inhibit aggressive attacks when a conspecific displays submission cues. Blair (1993) has suggested that humans possess a functionally similar mechanism which mediates the suppression of aggression in the context of distress cues. He has suggested that this mechanism is a prerequisite for the development of the moral/conventional distinction; the consistently observed distinction in subject's judgments between moral and conventional transgressions. Psychopaths may lack this violence inhibitor. A causal model is developed showing how the lack of this mechanism would explain the core behavioural symptoms associated with the psychopathic disorder. A prediction of such a causal model would be that psychopaths should fail to make the moral/conventional distinction. This prediction was confirmed. The implication of this finding for other theories of morality is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalCognition
Volume57
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1995

Fingerprint

morality
Cues
Moral Development
Behavioral Symptoms
Aggression
Violence
moral judgement
lack
suppression
aggression
animal
violence
Conventional
Psychopath
Morality
Causal Model
Prediction
Animals
Suppression
Transgression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Cite this

A cognitive developmental approach to morality : investigating the psychopath. / Blair, R. J.R.

In: Cognition, Vol. 57, No. 1, 10.1995, p. 1-29.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{d75ac5e6b9654ff2a47511c901939280,
title = "A cognitive developmental approach to morality: investigating the psychopath",
abstract = "Various social animal species have been noted to inhibit aggressive attacks when a conspecific displays submission cues. Blair (1993) has suggested that humans possess a functionally similar mechanism which mediates the suppression of aggression in the context of distress cues. He has suggested that this mechanism is a prerequisite for the development of the moral/conventional distinction; the consistently observed distinction in subject's judgments between moral and conventional transgressions. Psychopaths may lack this violence inhibitor. A causal model is developed showing how the lack of this mechanism would explain the core behavioural symptoms associated with the psychopathic disorder. A prediction of such a causal model would be that psychopaths should fail to make the moral/conventional distinction. This prediction was confirmed. The implication of this finding for other theories of morality is discussed.",
author = "Blair, {R. J.R.}",
year = "1995",
month = "10",
doi = "10.1016/0010-0277(95)00676-P",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "57",
pages = "1--29",
journal = "Cognition",
issn = "0010-0277",
publisher = "Elsevier",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - A cognitive developmental approach to morality

T2 - investigating the psychopath

AU - Blair, R. J.R.

PY - 1995/10

Y1 - 1995/10

N2 - Various social animal species have been noted to inhibit aggressive attacks when a conspecific displays submission cues. Blair (1993) has suggested that humans possess a functionally similar mechanism which mediates the suppression of aggression in the context of distress cues. He has suggested that this mechanism is a prerequisite for the development of the moral/conventional distinction; the consistently observed distinction in subject's judgments between moral and conventional transgressions. Psychopaths may lack this violence inhibitor. A causal model is developed showing how the lack of this mechanism would explain the core behavioural symptoms associated with the psychopathic disorder. A prediction of such a causal model would be that psychopaths should fail to make the moral/conventional distinction. This prediction was confirmed. The implication of this finding for other theories of morality is discussed.

AB - Various social animal species have been noted to inhibit aggressive attacks when a conspecific displays submission cues. Blair (1993) has suggested that humans possess a functionally similar mechanism which mediates the suppression of aggression in the context of distress cues. He has suggested that this mechanism is a prerequisite for the development of the moral/conventional distinction; the consistently observed distinction in subject's judgments between moral and conventional transgressions. Psychopaths may lack this violence inhibitor. A causal model is developed showing how the lack of this mechanism would explain the core behavioural symptoms associated with the psychopathic disorder. A prediction of such a causal model would be that psychopaths should fail to make the moral/conventional distinction. This prediction was confirmed. The implication of this finding for other theories of morality is discussed.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0029391175&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0029391175&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/0010-0277(95)00676-P

DO - 10.1016/0010-0277(95)00676-P

M3 - Article

C2 - 7587017

AN - SCOPUS:0029391175

VL - 57

SP - 1

EP - 29

JO - Cognition

JF - Cognition

SN - 0010-0277

IS - 1

ER -