Summary

Morality is a universal construct that is tied to the essence of what it means to be human and avoiding things harmful to ourselves and to others. Our moral development is enculturated – we learn our morality – which means that morality, fairness and justice will be shaped by the unique experiences of our culture. As humans we believe in fairness and when things are not fair we must change our perception to protect ourselves from the reality that we are vulnerable and not in control of the events that happen to us. Infrahumanization can result from these changes in our thinking which can lead to making judgments about others as immoral. Dehumanization can seem justified and ethical when we fail to see the humanity in others, particularly members of marginalized and minority groups. When deciding what is right, wrong and fair, it is important that we recognize within ourselves the capacity to moralize and make judgements about others.

Across human history, our humanity has often been tied to our morals and values. Morals vary from person-to-person but cultures create codes of conduct based on shared values and expectations. Theories of morality have developed to explain the distribution of resources and justice. Equality, equity, and justice are independent constructs that are prioritized differently across cultural interpretation of what is fair. The ecology and resources of a culture shape the development of belief systems and sanctions. Dehumanization can be used by those who look to justify discrimination while preserving moral identity.

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Culture and Psychology by L D Worthy; T Lavigne; and F Romero is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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