The overcoming of morality, in a certain sense even the self-overcoming of morality-let this be the name for that long secret work which has been saved up for the finest and most honest, also the most malicious, consciences of today, as living touchstones of the soul. – Friedrich Nietzsche
The Immorality Lab was created in 2009 at the campus of the University of British Columbia in affiliation with Sauder School of Business and the Faculty of Psychology. The purpose of the lab is to unite a virtual community of international scholars who study the many ways people mistreat one another and contribute to the sum total of misery and unhappiness in the world.
The work of the lab is inspired by Sigmund Freud’s observation that most human beings see their neighbor as “not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him.”
Human beings are capable of great cruelty and destructiveness. The hope of our lab is that by scientifically studying these attributes of our species we can discover ways of regulating their expression and minimizing their most damaging effects. More broadly, our lab seeks to understand morality as a cultural phenomenon and so we study such questions as: “How do the moral ideals and norms of a culture emerge?”, “What determines which moral belief systems become accepted and legitimized?”, and “What effects does believing in a certain kind of moral system have on the thoughts and behaviour of individuals and groups?”.
The Immorality Lab is organized by Dr. Karl Aquino of the Sauder School of Business. Karl is the Richard Poon Chair of Organizations and Society. Karl also has a courtesy appointment in the Faculty of Psychology and is a Fellow at the Maurice Young Center for Applied Ethics. Karl has been doing research on immorality since 1992. His research interests include:
Moral Cognition and Behaviour
Revenge, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation
Status and Social Dominance
Karl also dabbles in a number of other research areas including social sexual behavior at work, the experiences associated with luxury brand consumption, and the effects of visual stimuli on taste perceptions.