Project Information

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

Project Information

Project Title
"Moral psychology of big data"

Tilburg University - Department of Social Psychology

PhD Student
Rabia Kodapanakkal

Prof. Dr. Ilja van Beest Supervisor Tilburg University
Dr. Mark Brandt Co-supervisor Tilburg University
Dr. Christoph Kogler Co-supervisor Tilburg University

1 September 2017 - 1 September 2021



The rapid rise in the availability of data has outpaced understanding of what uses people find appropriate for the data. For example, using big data to track crime ignores most people’s traditional sense of privacy. Although, books have been published on the ethics and potential pitfalls of big data (e.g., O’Neil, 2016), this question hasn’t been tackled with data.The goal of this PhD project is to use theories and tools of moral psychology to understand how people think about the use of big data. First, we aim to identify various morally ambiguous uses of big data and examine which factors play a role in peoples’ decisions to value some tradeoffs more than others, thus building on research on moral dilemmas and tradeoffs (Conway and Gawronski, 2013). Next, we examine how self-interest (Van Prooijen et al., 2008) and utility of the outcomes of big data and individuals’ ideologies (Brandt, Reyna, Chambers, Crawford, & Wetherell, 2014) play a role in their moral view of big data use. Finally, we aim to use this knowledge to understand how these moral tradeoffs affect real world outcomes and relationships between people and governments/corporations.

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