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Department of Psychology



Research of Ethical and Social Topics (REST) Lab

The research agenda of the REST lab focuses on moral development. There are two areas that are emphasized including moral judgment development and moral self understanding.

Moral judgment development. The purpose of morality is to provide an implicit social guide. Our moral judgments (i.e., the moral decisions we make as a result of our reasoning) and their continued development is a chief aspect in illuminating this guide. There are not always laws, norms, or codes of ethics to inform us about the moral course of action. Similarly, societal conventions and laws are not always fair or just. Moral judgment is of great importance in such instances because its development ultimately enables determination of the principled course of action. Limited moral judgment development leaves us deficient and dependent in deciding what to do, which can lead to immoral and amoral behavior. Our development from dependent to independent in our moral judgment is of critical importance to any social system, then.

Moral self-understanding. As has long been understood, thought does not necessarily translate to action. There has to be something that serves as a bridge to action, and the moral self has been identified as this bridge. Principally, the moral self is that element of self understanding that identifies and prioritizes moral and ethical concerns as fundamental to the self. Hence, the moral self is thought of as the motivational component that facilitates the translation of thought into action.

The REST lab is always interested in adding to its research team. If you are interested in working with us or if have questions about what we do, please contact Dr. Pitt Derryberry at

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 Last Modified 9/24/14