- In general, most people’s moral sense capitulates in the face of authority.
- The roots of our moral sense—of honesty, altruism, compassion, generosity and sense of justice and fairness—are sunk deep in evolutionary history, as can be seen in our primate cousins, who are capable of remarkable acts of altruism.
- People’s ethical decision making is strongly driven by gut emotions rather than by rational, analytic thought. We have gut feelings of what is right and what is wrong.
Some other observations based on research to date:
“We know that women tend to be more altruistic than men on average (nyah!), older people tend to be more altruistic than younger ones (sucks to be elderly), students are less altruistic than nonstudents (that was unexpected–I always donated plasma as a student, but mostly because I was broke!),” he says. “People with higher IQs tend to be more altruistic/cooperative (it’s true; we are!).” However, there is little or no correlation between altruism and standard personality traits such as shyness, agreeableness and openness to new experiences.
But these generalizations are limited and don’t explain why people fall at different ends of the spectrum or how to cultivate virtue as a society or raise children to be moral.
So, who tends to be more altruistic?
A specific cluster of emotional traits seem to go along with compassion. People who are emotionally secure, who view life’s problems as manageable and who feel safe and protected tend to show the greatest empathy for strangers and to act altruistically and compassionately. In contrast, people who are anxious about their own worth and competence, who avoid close relationships or are clingy in those they have tend to be less altruistic and less generous.
It seems that some church members and programs increase emotional security and self-reliance, while others may create fear and anxiousness. Maybe this is just personalities of individuals that come to the surface.
Both forgiveness and revenge have been useful human tactics through time for different reasons:
both forgiveness and revenge “solved critical evolutionary problems for our ancestors.”helps to preserve valuable relationships. Exacting revenge acts as a deterrent against attacks, cheating or freeloading. It also establishes the revenge taker as someone not to be crossed, preempting future attacks.
Maybe the following explains “Mormon Persecution Complex” to some extent:
When people can count on the rule of law to punish infractions, they are less prone to seek personal revenge. Conversely, when society lacks a mechanism to defend people’s rights, “parents teach their children to cultivate a tough reputation and not let anyone get away with messing with them,” McCullough says.