Recent Submissions

  • The experimental psychology of moral enhancement: We should if we could, but we can't

    Terbeck, S.; Francis, Kathryn B. (2018-10-16)
    In this chapter we will review experimental evidence related to pharmacological moral enhancement. Firstly, we will present our recent study in which we found that a drug called propranolol could change moral judgements. Further research, which also investigated this, found similar results. Secondly, we will discuss the limitations of such approaches, when it comes to the idea of general “human enhancement”. Whilst promising effects on certain moral concepts might be beneficial to the development of theoretical moral psychology, enhancement of human moral behaviour in general – to our current understanding – has more side-effects than intended effects, making it potentially harmful. We give an overview of misconceptions when taking experimental findings beyond the laboratory and discuss the problems and solutions associated with the psychological assessment of moral behaviour. Indeed, how is morality “measured” in psychology, and are those measures reliable?
  • Virtual morality in the helping professions: Simulated action and resilience

    Francis, Kathryn B.; Gummerum, M.; Ganis, G.; Howard, I.S.; Terbeck, S. (2018-08)
    Recent advances in virtual technologies have allowed the investigation of simulated moral actions in aversive moral dilemmas. Previous studies have employed diverse populations to explore these actions, with little research considering the significance of occupation on moral decision‐making. For the first time, in this study we have investigated simulated moral actions in virtual reality made by professionally trained paramedics and fire service incident commanders who are frequently faced with and must respond to moral dilemmas. We found that specially trained individuals showed distinct empathic and related personality trait scores and that these declined with years of experience working in the profession. Supporting the theory that these professionals develop resilience in moral conflict, reduced emotional arousal was observed during virtual simulations of a distressing dilemma. Furthermore, trained professionals demonstrated less regret following the execution of a moral action in virtual reality when compared to untrained control populations. We showed that, contrary to previous research, trained individuals made the same moral judgements and moral actions as untrained individuals, though showing less arousal and regret. In the face of increasing concerns regarding empathy decline in health care professionals, we suggest that the nature of this decline is complex and likely reflects the development of a necessary emotional resilience to distressing events.
  • Simulating moral actions: An investigation of personal force in virtual moral dilemmas

    Francis, Kathryn B.; Terbeck, S.; Briazu, R.A.; Haines, A.; Gummerum, M.; Ganis, G.; Howard, I.S. (2017-10-24)
    Advances in Virtual Reality (VR) technologies allow the investigation of simulated moral actions in visually immersive environments. Using a robotic manipulandum and an interactive sculpture, we now also incorporate realistic haptic feedback into virtual moral simulations. In two experiments, we found that participants responded with greater utilitarian actions in virtual and haptic environments when compared to traditional questionnaire assessments of moral judgments. In experiment one, when incorporating a robotic manipulandum, we found that the physical power of simulated utilitarian responses (calculated as the product of force and speed) was predicted by individual levels of psychopathy. In experiment two, which integrated an interactive and life-like sculpture of a human into a VR simulation, greater utilitarian actions continued to be observed. Together, these results support a disparity between simulated moral action and moral judgment. Overall this research combines state-of-the-art virtual reality, robotic movement simulations, and realistic human sculptures, to enhance moral paradigms that are often contextually impoverished. As such, this combination provides a better assessment of simulated moral action, and illustrates the embodied nature of morally-relevant actions.
  • Virtual morality: Transitioning from moral judgment to moral action?

    Francis, Kathryn B.; Howard, C.; Howard, I.S.; Gummerum, M.; Ganis, G.; Anderson, G.; Terbeck, S. (2016-10-10)
    The nature of moral action versus moral judgment has been extensively debated in numerous disciplines. We introduce Virtual Reality (VR) moral paradigms examining the action individuals take in a high emotionally arousing, direct action-focused, moral scenario. In two studies involving qualitatively different populations, we found a greater endorsement of utilitarian responses±killing one in order to save many others±when action was required in moral virtual dilemmas compared to their judgment counterparts. Heart rate in virtual moral dilemmas was significantly increased when compared to both judgment counterparts and control virtual tasks. Our research suggests that moral action may be viewed as an independent construct to moral judgment, with VR methods delivering new prospects for investigating and assessing moral behaviour.
  • Advice on Portfolio Development in the Eastern Partnership region and Russia: implications of Ukraine conflicts

    Greene, Owen J.; Morris, K.; Paasiaro, M. (2015-02-01)
    Sida requested the Helpdesk to review and analyse the direct and indirect implications of the conflict in Ukraine in 2014 for the portfolio of programmes supported by Sida in the Eastern Partnership Region (EaP) and in Russia; taking into account the Results Strategies for Sweden’s support to these regions and countries.
  • Examining Resilience Related Initiatives and Programmes in the Horn of Africa

    Greene, Owen J.; Svensson, N.; Midgely, T.; Auma, E. (2015-11)
    The Helpdesk was requested by Sida in July 2015 to undertake a desk study and mapping exercise to feed in relevant and updated information related to policy frameworks, ongoing programming, and future initiatives currently discussed to better inform Sida’s planned and on-going resilience focus. Sida requested that the study should pay particular attention to regional initiatives (including for example relevant IGAD initiatives), but should also include a mapping of relevant policy platforms, as well as planned and on-going programmes relevant for the Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan country contexts.
  • Human Security in Mali

    Greene, Owen J. (2015-10)
    The context in Mali has changed considerably in the last few years. Progress on poverty eradication, growth and democratization was stalled as conflict erupted in 2012 but resumed in 2013 and is now slowly getting back on track. A preliminary agreement was signed in 2013 setting the frame for peace talks that are still on-going with Algeria as chief mediator. In spite of these negotiations, violent clashes and attacks by armed groups continue in the northern regions of the country. The post-conflict setting in Mali has created new challenges for the Swedish development cooperation portfolio.
  • Conflict Minerals in the DRC and Great Lakes Region

    Greene, Owen J.; Quick, I. (2015-03-15)
    Sida requested the Helpdesk to present a ‘snapshot’ and analysis of the problem of conflict minerals in the Great Lakes region, and particularly of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In anticipation of instructions in the forthcoming country/results strategy for the DRC, Sida will use the report in order to identify possible Swedish efforts in the field. Sida requested that report should be presented with both a perspective on the Great Lakes region in general, as well as a more detailed analysis of the situation in DRC in a regional perspective.
  • ‘Whose prisoners are these anyway?’ Church, state and society partnerships and co-production of offender ‘resocialisation’ in Brazil

    Macaulay, Fiona (2015)
    This chapter examines an innovative experience in prison management pioneered in the 1990s in São Paulo state, Brazil, whereby small, decentralised prison units were co-managed by community-based NGOs and the state prison authorities. These Resocialisation Centres (Centros de Ressocialização - CRs) were human rights compliant, run at half the cost of mainstream prisons, and emphasised rebuilding humane relationships between prisoners, and prisoners and their families. The CRs were inspired by Catholic volunteers completely taking over local jails, which came to be known as APACs. The chapter contrasts the APAC and CR ethos and practice. The former insisted on Christian faith, voluntarism and a sceptical view of the state as a penal actor. The latter preferred a secular approach, semi-professionalised NGOs, and formal partnerships that see the state as potentially capable of meeting its human rights and democratic legal commitments to those it incarcerates. The CR model of co-production of offender rehabilitation and desistance thus enables the local community to assist the state’s ‘moral performance’ within its penal institutions. The CR experiment is analysed in relation to competing models of prison governance (including forms of semi-privatization), and competition between criminal justice, civil society and religious actors for ‘ownership’ of the offender.
  • A Strategic Approach to Local Competency Gap Reduction: The Case of the Oil and Gas Industry in Ghana

    Amenshiah, Ambrose K.; Analoui, Farhad (2019-04)
    This empirical research explores local skill capacity gap in the petroleum industry in Ghana using a mixed method approach to study four public organisations. Matched samples of employees (226) were surveyed, while HR directors (9) were purposively sampled and interviewed. The findings suggest a wide local skill gap. Originality, this is one of the very few studies to explore the shortcomings of local skill capacity in public sector organisation. Research implications, more matched-sample studies are necessary to understand IOC’s local skill capacity further. Practically, the study is of significance to the policymakers. The main contribution of the research amongst others is to conceptualise the concept of HRM in Ghana’s context.
  • Celebrations amongst challenges: Considering the past, present and future of the qualitative methods in psychology section of the British Psychology Society

    Riley, S.; Brooks, J.; Goodman, S.; Cahill, S.; Branney, Peter; Treharne, G.J.; Sullivan, C. (2019)
    This article summarises the standpoint of the Qualitative Methods in Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society regarding the current position of qualitative research in psychology in the United Kingdom. The article is in three parts. Part one documents the historical development of the section, outlining its rationale, remit, and current activities. These activities aim to champion and develop qualitative methods in psychology, supporting high quality work regardless of epistemological or ontological position. Part two considers the current context of our work, describing not only how qualitative methods are valued in the United Kingdom but also how this recognition is undermined, particularly through the operationalisation of our national research assessment (the Research Excellence Framework). We also consider the challenges that Open Science poses for qualitive researchers. Part three highlights some of the significant contributions of UK-based qualitative researchers to psychology, with a particular focus on feminist-informed research, discourse analysis, and interpretative phenomenological analysis, before pointing to future exciting possibilities based on research exploring the affordances of digital technologies and innovative synthesising across epistemologies and disciplinary boundaries.
  • A corpus study of 'know': on the verification of philosophers' frequency claims about language

    Hansen, N.; Porter, J.D.; Francis, Kathryn B. (2019)
    We investigate claims about the frequency of "know" made by philosophers. Our investigation has several overlapping aims. First, we aim to show what is required to confirm or disconfirm philosophers' claims about the comparative frequency of different uses of philosophically interesting expressions. Second, we aim to show how using linguistic corpora as tools for investigating meaning is a productive methodology, in the sense that it yields discoveries about the use of language that philosophers would have overlooked if they remained in their "armchairs of an afternoon", to use J.L. Austin's phrase. Third, we discuss facts about the meaning of "know" that so far have been ignored in philosophy, with the aim of reorienting discussions of the relevance of ordinary language for philosophical theorizing.
  • Stakes, Scales, and Skepticism

    Francis, Kathryn B.; Beaman, P.; Hansen, N. (2019)
    There is conflicting experimental evidence about whether the “stakes” or importance of being wrong affect judgments about whether a subject knows a proposition. To date, judgments about stakes effects on knowledge have been investigated using binary paradigms: responses to “low” stakes cases are compared with responses to “high stakes” cases. However, stakes or importance are not binary properties—they are scalar: whether a situation is “high” or “low” stakes is a matter of degree. So far, no experimental work has investigated the scalar nature of stakes effects on knowledge: do stakes effects increase as the stakes get higher? Do stakes effects only appear once a certain threshold of stakes has been crossed? Does the effect plateau at a certain point? To address these questions, we conducted experiments that probe for the scalarity of stakes effects using several experimental approaches. We found evidence of scalar stakes effects using an “evidenceseeking” experimental design, but no evidence of scalar effects using a traditional “evidence-fixed” experimental design. In addition, using the evidence-seeking design, we uncovered a large, but previously unnoticed framing effect on whether participants are skeptical about whether someone can know something, no matter how much evidence they have. The rate of skeptical responses and the rate at which participants were willing to attribute “lazy knowledge”—that someone can know something without having to check— were themselves subject to a stakes effect: participants were more skeptical when the stakes were higher, and more prone to attribute lazy knowledge when the stakes were lower. We argue that the novel skeptical stakes effect provides resources to respond to criticisms of the evidence-seeking approach that argue that it does not target knowledge
  • A Grounded Theory approach to understanding the role of medication safety within a hospital early discharge team

    Tomlinson, Justine; Silcock, Jonathan; Karban, Kate; Blenkinsopp, Alison; Smith, H. (2019-02)
  • IPA: The black swan of qualitative research

    Dennison, Melissa (2019)
    Critics of IPA suggest that it is unscientific, lacking a complex subjectivity and displaying a promiscuous epistemology. This article aims to explore these criticisms, offering a response that is inspired by the language of fertility and ideas adapted from evolutionary science. As the swan is often seen as a symbol of fidelity, this article draws an analogy between the promiscuous behaviour of Australian Black Swans and IPA research. Within this frame, flirtations with other methodologies are described as being advantageous in that they encourage gene flow and a productive cross fertilisation of ideas. An intermingling of genes can open up new avenues of research, enhance reflexive awareness and allow the voice of others to be heard. Finally as IPA is happy to engage in flirtations and dalliances with diverse theoretical frames to enhance its longevity, this article suggests that a good match could be made between IPA and dialogical methods.
  • Understanding the mother-infant bond

    Milne, Elizabeth; Johnson, Sally E.; Waters, Gillian M.; Small, Neil A. (2018-09)
  • Cabotage as an external non-tariff measure on the competitiveness on SIDS's agribusinesses: The case of Puerto Rico

    Suárez II Gómez, William (2018)
    This paper explores the multidimensional effects of an external non-tariff measure (NTM) on maritime transportation between the United States (US) and Puerto Rico (PR) trades. In particular, this research addresses the vulnerability level of PR’s agrifood sector in relation to sustainability as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) highly influenced by a larger economy. Due to the high potential of climate changes in the Caribbean, this study reviewed the effects of a maritime cabotage policy on a SIDS agribusinesses’ logistic. Could a NTM affect the supply chain capabilities and the food security of a SIDS? What challenges and opportunities does the US Cabotage policy present for PR’s agricultural sector’s competitiveness? Based on mixing empirical analysis in an exploratory convergent design, the research categorizes the cabotage policy in relation to the effects on PR’s agrifood supply chain, its port infrastructure, and its native agribusinesses’ competitiveness. Results show the maritime cabotage itself is a constraint. However, the interactions with others NTMs, indirectly related to the cabotage but inherent to the political status and business relationship between PR and the US, add other limits. In addition, it revealed that internal factors have an impact on the efficiency and competitiveness of PR’s agro-industrial sector.
  • Alienation and emotion: social relations and estrangement in contemporary capitalism

    Burkitt, Ian (2019)
    In this article I look at the emotional effects of alienation in modern capitalist societies. I begin by considering Marx’s theory of alienation, focusing especially on the alienation between people and between them and the social institutions to which they should be connected. In this way, alienation is understood as a form of estrangement within social relations and I draw out the emotional implications of this, in terms of the relations between people and in the way people feel about their own self. This is enhanced through an understanding of emotions as relational phenomena, a position highly attuned to Marx’s own mode of social analysis. I then illustrate and develop this understanding of alienation and emotion by drawing on the empirical examples of political relations and property relations in the UK, concluding with a discussion of what this tells us about alienation and emotion in contemporary capitalist societies.

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