Most violence in the world is motivated by personal morality — Tage Rai

MIT Sloan Lecturer Tage Rai

MIT Sloan Lecturer Tage Rai

From Quartz

What motivates someone to be violent? This is a question many people are asking in the wake of the recent mass shootings in California. Most explanations tend to revolve around the core assumption that violence is wrong. If someone is violent, something must be broken in their moral psychology—they are intrinsically evil, they lack self-control, they are selfish, or they fail to understand the pain they cause. However, it turns out that this fundamental assumption is mistaken. It is not the breakdown of their morality at all, but rather the working of their moral psychology. Most violence in the world is motivated by moral sentiments.

I began studying this issue by asking why people disagree when and if violence is appropriate. Intergenerationally, I looked at why spanking children was more acceptable 50 years ago than today, and why it is still more acceptable in certain parts of the country. Cross-culturally, I looked at why it is incomprehensible to Westerners to kill women for sexual infidelity, yet other parts of the world encourage this practice.

Read the full post at Quartz.

Tage Rai is a lecturer at MIT Sloan.