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Faculty research spotlight
Description of the video:[00:00:03]
>> I'm doing research on several aspects of media psychology at the moment, but one set of studies that are especially exciting to me is the research that my students and I are doing on human morality. I've always been interested in trying to understand what motivates people and how we make decisions, and moral judgments and behaviors are a big part of that. This is a really interesting time for the field in developing our understanding of just how morals work. There are new theories of moral psychology that have emerged to explain morality, but there's still so much that we don't know. For example, how and when do our morals change? Can you shift another person's moral compass? These are core questions for us right now, and we found that video games are a wonderful space in which to study these things. Morality is often based on emotion, and the old paper and pencil tests with moral dilemmas didn't do a very good job of capturing that emotion, but with video games people get immersed. They care about the characters, they feel the weight of their decisions, it's meaningful to them. So, right now, we're doing a set of studies where we look at moral judgments and decisions in games, and we tweak various aspects of the experience to see just how malleable our morals might actually be.
In a couple of these studies, for example, we've manipulated the narrative arc of the game, and we found that this influenced participants decisions not only within the game, but after the game play was over as well. Now we're manipulating players' emotional state to see how that affects their behavior as they move through the game world, and eventually we hope to get to a place where we have evidence that speaks to the relative influence of both cognition and emotion on a moral decisions, which would have a whole host of both theoretical and practical implications for how we think about morality.
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