BBC morality survey

The BBC is running a survey entitled Test Your Morality. It’s purpose is to look at a new theory of morality, the ‘Human Superorganism Theory,’ which says that people behave as if they were part of a larger organism when they are organised into groups. Our morality is then based on the expectation of being punished by the rest of society and differences in morality are due to different ‘tuning’ of our moral sense depending on our role in the superorganism.

They want as many people as possible, from all over the world, to take the test and if you have some time it’s not much of a problem. It does take a while though and you do have to register on the BBC website.

Once you’ve done the tests you do get to see how you compare to the rest of the test-takers in various categories. For example I scored lower than average on all measurements, in particular having a ‘lower sense of wrongness.’

Dimensions of Morality

Unfortunately you’re rather limited in that you can’t see what the average was but it’s better than nothing. The results aren’t really all that surprising to me. A lot will depend on where you get your morals and whether you can distinguish between actions that you like and actions that you think are wrong.

To illustrate, one of the questions concerned a person who wrote what was essentially a xenophobic article. I would obviously have a certain amount of anger (because that could lead to repercussions for foreigners, as has happened in South Africa) and disgust (because your birth is not something you have any control of and nor should it’s location affect your worth as a human being) but I wouldn’t see it as wrong (because I support free speech even if the ideas expressed are distasteful). However, from looking at how the world often treats the subject, a lot of people will find the expression of a distasteful idea to be wrong.

I’m not sure how viable the whole theory is though but it will be interesting to see what they conclude once they have all their data and I’ll try remember to post that when I get it.


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