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Moral Understanding and Media: Meeting the Challenges of Interdisciplinary Research

Friend, Stacie, Nyhout, A., Smith, Murray, Ferguson, Heather J. (2023) Moral Understanding and Media: Meeting the Challenges of Interdisciplinary Research. Journal of Media Psychology, . ISSN 1617-6383. (In press) (KAR id:103144)


Philosophers and other scholars have often claimed that the arts are not only cognitively valuable but also morally improving (e.g., Nussbaum, 1997). However, their arguments often proceed with little attention to empirical evidence. At the same time, filmmakers and media creators deliberately use devices to direct their audience’s attention, with the intention of impacting viewers’ cognitive, affective, and neurological responses in meaningful ways (Carroll & Seeley, 2013). Whether these devices have the desired effects, and on whom, also remains largely untested. If we want to understand the ways that film and media can have moral impacts, we must step out of our disciplinary siloes. It is not enough for film experts, philosophers, and experimentalists to merely take note of each other’s work; collaborative interdisciplinary research is required, both to improve methods and to examine questions that have not yet been empirically explored. In this article we propose a model for this kind of research, focusing on how media can influence moral understanding. We first outline the challenges that must be met for such research to be successful, including clarifying and operationalizing concepts, measuring moral understanding, and applying empirical methods to media and the arts. We then describe the advantages of interdisciplinary collaboration for meeting these challenges, in the context of some recent examples of interdisciplinary projects on related themes.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF41 Psychology and philosophy
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Heather Ferguson
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2023 13:22 UTC
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2024 11:02 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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