Virtues as Properly Motivated, Self-Integrated Traits

Abstract

Contemporary empirical research on virtues has been promising, but limited in depth and value by investigators’ reliance on global self-report questionnaires obtained at a single time-point. These questionnaires require respondents to summarize their trait features in very broad state-ments or focus narrowly on specific behaviors. Properly understood, virtues are partly constitut-ed by appropriate motivations in response to the real-world environment and integrated with the actor’s self—features that are not accessible using the predominant research methods. Our central aim is to deepen virtue research with intensive longitudinal measurement of virtu-ous activity, which includes behavior, motivation, self-congruence, and situational factors. We will assess participants’ real-world activity four times per day over a 14-day period with respect to two pervasive virtues: fairness and kindness. We will then conduct narrative interviews with a subset of participants about virtue in their lives. We will assess motivation in three ways and the integration of the behavior with the self in three ways. These innovative methods will enable us to use cutting-edge psychological methods to investigate sophisticated philosophic questions about whether and how people's capacity for virtuous activity depends on their achieving self-integration - both across time and across personal contexts.

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Bradford Cokelet
University of Kansas

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