Journal article

From ordinary to extraordinary: A roadmap for studying the psychology of moral exceptionality

Erin CR Lawn, Luke D Smillie, Luiza B Pacheco, Simon M Laham

CURRENT OPINION IN PSYCHOLOGY | ELSEVIER | Published : 2022

Abstract

Some moral actions - including prosocial actions - are more exceptional than others. Within psychology, interest in such moral exceptionality is mounting, but a definition of the concept is lacking. Our review addresses this issue by integrating insights from the moral exemplar, heroism, and supererogation literatures. We propose an action-based definition that places the outperformance of prescriptive or descriptive moral norms at the core of moral exceptionality. Using our definition, we i) discuss how exceptionality is represented in moral constructs studied across psychology and ii) provide a template for identifying moral exceptionality in the prosocial domain.

Grants

Funding Acknowledgements

The project was supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation through The Beacon Project, Wake Forest University. The first author was supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone.