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Paper on 'Mapping Immorality' One of Three Dozen Research Projects Displayed at Undergraduate Research/Scholarship Day May 5

May 3, 2011

"Mapping Immorality" is the title of sophomore Bushra Nagiís paper, which she plans to present at Lehmanís Third Annual Undergraduate Research/Scholarship Day on Thursday, May 5. Her paper focuses on an individualís perspective on "immoral" things.

Nagi, who plans to major in psychology, became interested in the topic of morality and immorality when she was asked to develop a topic for a paper in her English 120 class. "At the time I was very curious about moral laws and how they originated," explains Nagi. "So I decided to research the origins of morality and in doing so I ended up with even more questions."

Working with Psychology Professor Anne Reid, Nagi began her research last summer. She started by asking subjects to help generate a list of immoral things by checking off on a list the words they thought were immoral, such as "murder" and "child abuse." In the second part of the study, she gave subjects a deck of fifty-six cards with an immoral "thing" written on themóthe "things" were based on words produced from the first study.

Subjects then sorted the cards into as many piles as they wanted, based on the similarities and differences of the "thing." From this, Nagi was able to produce a scatter plot that allowed her to create five different dimensions: subjective vs. objective, illegal vs. legal, common vs. uncommon, forgivable vs. unforgivable, and controllable vs. uncontrollable. Nagi then applied these five dimensions to the fifty-six immoral "things," which subjects then rated, using a seven-point scale. Her goal is describe how immoral "things" differ from each other. The results for this final part of the study are pending.

To see this research and the three dozen other posters and presentations selected for recognition, stop by the event, which will be held in the Music Building's East Dining Room, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.