Project Information

Kurt Lewin Instituut
Heidelberglaan 1
Room Number H1.42
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)30 - 253 3027

Project Information

Project Title
"The Mystery of Moralization"

University of Groningen - Department of Psychology

PhD Student
Ana Leal

Prof. dr. Martijn van Zomeren (RuG)
Prof. dr. Ernestine Gordijn (RuG)
Dr. Michal Reifen-Tagar (IDC Herzliya Israel)
Prof. dr. Eran Halperin (IDC Herzliya, Israel)

1 September 2016 - 31 August 2020

University of Groningen


The main aim of this project is to understand how individuals' attitudes become moralized. In fact, little is known about how attitudes on an issue (e.g., ethnic or gender discrimination) change from something negative to something believed to be absolutely wrong. In the present project, we focus on how taboos (the implicit rules that nobody should ever violate within a relationship, or within a culture) relate to the antecedents and consequences of the process of moralization. Particularly, we seek to examine the strong potential of taboo violations to trigger qualitative changes in how one thinks, feels, and wants to act toward those violating the taboo. We will test three, potentially converging, explanations across different cultural contexts: (1) whether emotional experiences of a perceived taboo violation lead to moralization of the issue at hand, and how moralization spreads via the expressions of these emotions by those close to them (e.g., ingroup members); (2) whether perceiving a taboo violation has the potential to affirm established or create new group identities based around a moral stance; and (3) whether perceiving a taboo violation justifies disproportional responses toward those who violate the taboo.

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