Amber Dukes, '10
Amber Dukes was born in Ocala, Florida. She is earning dual degrees in Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies, both with the distinction of Honors in Major. Her research interest is in Evolutionary Psychology with a focus on morality. Her current research project is an exploration of the 7 deadly sins from an evolutionary perspective. Previously, her research has explored variables associated with attraction to psychopaths. She was a participant in the 2008 Summer Research Academy, and is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. Amber was selected to do summer research at the University of Pennsylvania with Dr. Robert Kurzban as part of the Leadership Alliance. At UCF, Amber is mentored by Drs. Charles Negy, Bernadette Jungblut, and Mason Cash.
Psychology; Interdisciplinary Studies
Ph.D. in Evolutionary Psychology
Is Causing Harm Wrongful? Or is a Harmful Wrong Causal? Conducted at the University of Pennsylvania as part of the Leadership Alliance and Summer Undergraduate Internship Program (SUIP). Mentor: Robert Kurzban, Psychology Dept, University of Pennsylvania Abstract: Current theories in psychology, as well as lay intuitions, suggest that judgments of causality precede judgments of moral culpability: individuals perceived to have caused a harm are, everything else equal, judged morally culpable while individuals perceived not to have caused a harm are, holding aside special circumstances, held blameless. This idea – that moral judgments turn on prior causal judgments – has been suggested as the explanation for the “omission bias,” the finding that violations by omission are judged less morally wrong than violations by commission, holding intentions constant. Here we explore a counterintuitive hypothesis, that inferences go the other way. Do intuitions about moral culpability influence people’s judgments of causality? We presented subjects with a vignette in which a bystander observed a runaway train about to hit an object on the track and could divert the train around the object, but failed to do so. Two variables were manipulated in a 2x2 between-subjects design. In one case, the bystander did nothing at all; in the other, the bystander hit a button which had no effect on the train’s path. The other dimension was the identity of the object: either a pile of leaves, or a person. People were more likely to judge that the bystander caused the train to hit the object when it was a person, particularly when the bystander pushed the button as opposed to doing nothing. Although causality was constant across conditions, judgments of causality varied, and tracked intuitions of moral wrongness.
Summer Research Institution
University of Pennsylvania
University of New Mexico
Dukes, Amber, "Amber Dukes, '10" (2017). McNair Scholars. 35.