Join getAbstract to access the summary!

The Emotional Dog and Its Rational Tail

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

The Emotional Dog and Its Rational Tail

A Social Intuitionist Approach to Moral Judgment

American Psychological Association,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Moral judgments may not be as rational as you would like to believe.

auto-generated audio
auto-generated audio

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


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.


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 experience.

Much of the research on the subject of moral judgment relies upon “rationalist models,” which assume moral reasoning is the cause of moral judgment. But individuals can, and do, make moral judgments even when there is no good reason...

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.

Comment on this summary