India and Australia

Note: It seems that you haven't yet completed the Morality Play activity. If not, we strongly recommend you do so before reading this analysis. Basically, what follows will make a lot more sense if you do!

One of the questions in the Morality Play activity asks whether there is a moral obligation to help a person who is in severe need.

You see a charity advertisement in a newspaper about a person in severe need in India/Australia. There is no state welfare available to this person, but you can help them at little cost to yourself. You have good reason to believe that any help you offer will make a difference. Are you morally obliged to help the person?

Half the people undertaking the activity are told that the person lives in India; the other half that the person lives in Australia. The main idea here is to determine what kind of impact "culural distance" has on the moral judgements that people make. The important point here is that the vast majority of people who visit this web site are from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Consequently, there will likely be bigger cultural differences between visitors to this web site and residents of India than between visitors to this web site and residents of Australia. Of course, it should also be said that issues of ethnic identification, and even racial prejudice, might come into play here though obviously it isn't possible to make such a determination from the data available).

The charts below show how people responded to this question for each country: the first set shows the percentage responses from amongst all respondents; the second, from amongst those people who live in the United States, United Kingdom or Canada; the third, from amongst people who self-identify as Christians; and the final set, from among people who self-identify as belonging to "No Religion".

All Respondents (Note: This activity has been completed by 5000 people)


Respondents from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada


Respondents who self-identify as Christians


Respondents who self-identify as belonging to "No Religion"

Really Deep Thought

Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths.
   --Bertrand Russell.


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