Morality-as-cooperation : how it relates to construal levels and how the theory could improve

Zafer Kılıç

This thesis is composed of two main parts. The first part involves an experimental study following Alper and Yilmaz (2020), who, informed by previous findings and construal level theory, hypothesized that experimentally evoking an abstract mindset would increase moral consistency and increase the valuation of individualizing moral foundations. However, their results did not support either of their hypotheses, adding to the mixed findings accumulated by previous research. I tested the same hypotheses as Alper and Yilmaz (2020) by using a more recent and sophisticated measure of morality based on morality-as-cooperation theory instead of moral foundations theory. However, the results again did not support the hypotheses. Additionally, I examined the possible influence of trait-level abstract-mindedness on the hypothesized effects. I failed to find any interaction effects other than that mindset manipulation increased the valuation of individualizing moral foundation only in the case of characteristically abstract-minded people. When combined, these findings indicate that the mindset manipulation may be overwhelmed by trait-level abstract/concrete mindedness, thus cannot influence moral attitudes. The second part comprises a critical assessment of morality-as-cooperation theory, which I employed in the experimental study. I attempted to show that the theory falls short of explaining certain aspects of human morality because it neglects the role of conformity to social norms. Then, I offer a theoretically grounded proposal supported by relevant empirical studies to improve the theory by integrating conformity as a moral foundation into morality-as-cooperation framework.