The intragroup level: How social identity tunes moral cognition

Jay J. Van Bavel, Dominic J. Packer, Jennifer L. Ray, Claire Robertson, Nick Ungson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter, we move beyond the treatment of intuition and reason as competing systems and outline how social contexts, and especially social identities, allow people to flexibly "tune" their cognitive reactions to moral contexts- a process we refer to as "moral tuning." Collective identities- identities based on shared group memberships- significantly influence judgments and decisions of many kinds, including in the moral domain. We explain why social identities influence all aspects of moral cognition, including processes traditionally classified as intuition and reasoning. We then explain how social identities tune preferences and goals, expectations, and what outcomes care about. Finally, we propose directions for future research in moral psychology. • Social identities allow people to flexibly tune their cognitive reactions within moral contexts. • The social environment shapes moral intuitions, tuning decisions to reflect the moral norms of the group or community to which people belong. • Our model assumes that people's moral decisions are based on weighing the probability of certain outcomes as well as people's preferences, goals, and expectations- and that these considerations are shaped by social identities and group norms. • Moral group norms are dynamic and may change over time. • Future research is needed to investigate more precisely how shifting norms influence moral decisions through social preferences, expectations and/ or salient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge International Handbook of the Psychology of Morality
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781003125969
ISBN (Print)9780367647209
StatePublished - Jul 31 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'The intragroup level: How social identity tunes moral cognition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this