Wednesday, July 24, 2013

International Conference on Social Dilemmas: Zurich, Switzerland

I just returned from the International Conference on Social Dilemmas in Zurich, Switzerland (check out this link for more information on Social Dilemma Scholarship :http://socialdilemma.com/). It is a consistently excellent and stimulating conference, and I really enjoyed meeting dozens of scholars with interests similar to my own.

At the conference, I presented a talk describing work I've done with Lehigh collaborators Dom Packer and Kelly Chu, and NYU collaborator Jay Van Bavel. The talk was entitled, Consistent Contributors Can Inspire Robust, Costly Generosity in Those with Altruistic Values.  A key point of our work is that people's moral values regarding "doing good for others" become much more influential in their decision making following exposure to an individual who exemplifies the value. The implication is that, for many of us, moral values simply lie dormant in our minds, failing to impact our daily decision making. Fortunately, it is possible for those values to be "awakened" when we witness an example of moral excellence in action (e.g., a person who shows impressive levels of patience or generosity). Of course, as our work also shows, among those lacking strong moral values an example of moral excellence in action has no effect at all!

I was also able to spend several days getting in touch with the breathtaking landscapes of Switzerland (and attending the Montreux Jazz Festival, where I saw a performance by Charles Lloyd, Zakir Hussain, and Eric Harland!). Here is a photo I took from the train station at Wengen, in the Alps:


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