Description of the Research Group "Moral Courage"
This Research Group was dedicated to investigating the psychological processes of moral courage (Zivilcourage or courage civique). Moral courage describes the striking phenomenon of bystanders intervening against violations of their own moral principles, despite substantial costs (be they social, financial, or physical) to themselves. Examples of such behavior include stepping in to stop violent altercations, whistleblowing and dissent, objection to discrimination, and altruistic punishment. Our research aimed at understanding the psychological processes of moral courage, and we investigated dispositional and situational determinants that facilitate or hinder moral courage. To this end, we combined research approaches from personality and social psychology. For example, we explored the role of moral convictions, emotions, and motivation, as well as the influence of societal norms, social identity, and culture. Empirical strategies involved, but were not limited to, observation studies in the lab, comparisons of extreme groups (morally courageous exemplars), economic games, ambulatory assessment methods, and multi-method assessment.