Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Moral Instincts and Morality

  • Demetra Themistocleous
  • Xenia Anastassiou-Hadjicharalambous
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3620-1



Moral instincts, or otherwise social intuitions, are unconscious abilities that differentiate between right and wrong actions.


Since the advent of psychology, Bargh (1989) stated that people access substantial types of knowledge without phenomenological cognizance. According to Reber (1993), awareness and phenomenological cognizance are comparatively new concepts in comparison to other functions of the brain considered to be unconscious. Lately, some scientific disciplines such as evolutionary psychology and cognitive sciences proposed intuitionist approaches to human functioning (Klein 2003).

Long ago, gut feelings were considered unreasonable. Now, however, things have changed significantly, and often reasoning is considered needless (Cummins 2003). Certain theories, like the moral intuitionist theories, emphasize people’s sudden instinct reactions that they exhibit toward others. As per this...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Demetra Themistocleous
    • 1
  • Xenia Anastassiou-Hadjicharalambous
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus

Section editors and affiliations

  • Menelaos Apostolou
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus