Advertisement
Research Article

Does “Science” Make You Moral? The Effects of Priming Science on Moral Judgments and Behavior

  • Christine Ma-Kellams mail,

    christinema@fas.harvard.edu

    Affiliation: Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California, United States of America

    X
  • Jim Blascovich

    Affiliation: Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California, United States of America

    X
  • Published: March 06, 2013
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057989

Reader Comments (6)

Post a new comment on this article

Post-publication review

Posted by RolfZwaan on 27 Sep 2013 at 14:17 GMT

A post-publication review of this manuscript (plus corrections) can be found here: <a href="http://rolfzwaan.blogspot...">Link text</a>.

No competing interests declared.

RE: Post-publication review

christinema replied to RolfZwaan on 27 Sep 2013 at 16:50 GMT

Below are the responses to the points posted in the above blog:

1-2. I contend that the historical observation that the development of science was linked to the vision of a society of mutual benefit may itself not be the only or sufficient reason for a link between science and moral behavior. I offer it as one possibility. I also acknowledge that there are cases in history and popular culture where science has been used for evil. However, I am interested more in the more common and lay associations with science, and think that the “evil scientist” idea is more of an outlier than a norm.
3, 9. I have sent the date rape vignette, primes, and all other materials to anyone who has requested them, and am happy to continue to do so.
4. Different scales were used for the moral wrongness rating and the science rating because the date rape vignette and moral wrongness question were taken from an unpublished working paper by a colleague that relied on that scale. The science question was subsequently added, and since Likert scales are typically standard, I, by default, chose to use that.
5-6. Coding for field of study into science vs. non-science was based on whether the field relied primarily on empirical methods of experimentation and perceived lay conceptions of what is “science,” and hence why sociology and communication were categorized as non-science. Belief in science was included as an additional predictor to see if the relationship held when a non-coded variable was used.
7. Reviewers and editors did not request averages per field.
8. It may seem ironic that historians and philosophers who in the introduction were credited with having introduced the notion of science as moral force in society are now hypothesized to be less moral than others (after all, they were ranked among the non-scientists), and I do not have a clear explanation for this irony except to observe that the experiments here tapped lay theories (i.e., of science) and their associations; thus, one possibility is that the lay association with a mutually beneficial society may be stronger for science than for history or philosophy.
10-13. Regarding these confounds involving frequency, imageability, ease, and whether the words were thematic in nature, here are the control sentences in question:
1. fall was worried she always
2. shoes give replace old the
3. retrace good have holiday a
4. more paper it once do
5. send I over it mailed
6. saw hammer he the train
7. yesterday it finished track he
8. sky the seamless blue is
9. predictable he shoes his tied
10. prepared somewhat I was retired
It does not appear that the control words always involved words that were less frequent, imageable, or easier to process. It is true that the control words are not thematic like the science words for no other reason that I thought it better to use generally neutral words in the control condition than to try to choose an purely neutral theme.
14-16. I did not inquire about participant’s perceptions of the case, and the reviewer and editor did not either. In hindsight, as is often the case, I concede that this information would be useful.
17-18. I sent Plos-One the raw data, which they had an outside source independently evaluate and confirm was consistent with the updated results posted. An official correction was also submitted to the journal staff, but I am unfamiliar with the journal’s practice on how that correction will be incorporated to the original version of the paper.
19. I apologize for not catching the corrections during the revision process, and as Plos-One does not offer author-proofing, I regrettably did not catch them before publication.
20. I am happy to send the discarded experiments that the reviewer requested we re-do because of his listed questions concerning validity to anyone who requests them.
22. I acknowledge that the unequal variances caused by outliers is a problem that unfortunately, I do not have control over. Given that our data was collected in a confidential manner, no reporting to the authorities could be undertaken for the one participant who reported a relatively low disapproval of rape.
23. Yes, the three prosocial actions listed were the only prosocial actions used.
24. Yes, the responses on the prosocial actions were averaged.
25-26. The non-prosocial activities were included as distractor items so that the purpose of the task would not be obvious to the participants and thus heighten social desirability concerns. Thus, they were not included in the analysis.
27. I appreciate the calculation of the effect size and acknowledge that the current debate over priming studies demands more inquiry into replicability of priming effects in general. As mentioned previously, I have sent my full materials to anyone who has requested them.
28. This paper has undergone various revisions, and the previous reviewer who requested this change was from a different journal that this paper was originally submitted to; in his review, he suggested the problematic third condition be removed when I submit the paper to another journal.
29. Participants were randomly assigned to the experimental and control condition, and hence the discrepancy was a product of this assignment.
30. Yes, academic dishonesty was dropped because the reviewer argued that it was too closely aligned to science itself.

No competing interests declared.