Summary of The Emotional Dog and Its Rational Tail

A Social Intuitionist Approach to Moral Judgment

American Psychological Association, more...

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The Emotional Dog and Its Rational Tail summary
Moral judgments may not be as rational as you would like to believe.


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In this groundbreaking article, social psychologist and business professor Jonathan Haidt offers the “social intuitionist model” as an alternative to “rationalist models of moral judgment.” His new model posits that moral judgments usually spring from intuitive perceptions – with reasoning emerging only after the fact. An overview of the history of the rational model, coupled with a four-part analysis of its weaknesses, makes it clear why Haidt’s alternative is plausible. getAbstract recommends Haidt’s perspectives to everyone interested in the subjects of social and moral psychology.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the rationalist approach to moral judgment differs from the “social intuitionist model,”
  • Why the “rational model” of moral judgment is flawed, and
  • How the “social intuitionist model” can help engender more rational and nuanced moral judgments.


When human beings confront a “morally problematic” situation, a moral judgment often ensues. Consider, for example, the question of whether is it acceptable for a brother and sister to have a sexual relationship, if no children can come from the union and neither individual is hurt in any way by the...
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About the Author

Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist and professor of ethical leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind was a New York Times bestseller.

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