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Issues and Debates – WEIRD Populations

3. Moral Reasoning

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In this lecture, we think about moral reasoning in the context of WEIRD and non-WEIRD populations, focusing in particular on: (i) Kohlberg’s 1973 definition of moral reasoning being the ways in which people think about and perceive right and wrong; (ii) Kohlberg’s 1973 study, which found that moral reasoning was lower in violent youths than in non-violent youths; (iii) the dramatically different strength of evidence for Kohlberg’s post-conventional moral reasoning stage in WEIRD populations, when compared to non-WEIRD populations; (iv) Al-Shehab’s 2002 research, finding that faculty members of Kuwait University scored lower than a typical member of a Western population; (v) further examples of non-WEIRD population studies investigating differences in moral reasoning; (vi) the absence of post-conventional moral reasoning specifically, in non-WEIRD populations; (vii) the ethical implications of using Kohlberg’s understanding of moral development to judge criminal actions.


In this course, Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe (Buckinghamshire New University) explores research with WEIRD and non-WEIRD populations. In the first lecture, we think about what a WEIRD population is. In the second lecture, we think about altruistic punishment as a forensic psychology example of research which differs in results across different populations. Next, we think about moral reasoning as a second example of a concept which WEIRD and non-WEIRD populations differ in their presentation of. In the fourth and final lecture, we think of some key reasons as to why these differences occur.


Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe is associate professor of education and research and head of the School of Human and Social Sciences at Buckinghamshire New University. Professor O’Keeffe’s research interests include investigative psychology and parapsychology, and has made numerous television and radio appearances alongside an array of celebrities. Some of Professor O’Keeffe’s recent publications include 'Things That Go Bump In The Literature: An Environmental Appraisal of 'Haunted Houses'' (2020) and 'Restorative Justice and Recidivism: Investigating the impact of victim-preference for level of engagement' (2014).

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APA style

O'Keeffe, C. (2022, July 20). Issues and Debates – WEIRD Populations - Moral Reasoning [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

O'Keeffe, C. "Issues and Debates – WEIRD Populations – Moral Reasoning." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 20 Jul 2022,

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