University of Kent psychologist delivering April 7 Expanding Empathy lecture

David Price
April 02, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The final solo talk in the 2021 Expanding Empathy lecture series is scheduled for Wednesday, April 7, with Jim A.C. Everett, lecturer (assistant professor) in psychology at the University of Kent, presenting.

The topic of Everett’s lecture, which is being delivered as a Zoom webinar at 4 p.m., is “Switching Tracks? A Two-Dimensional Model of Utilitarian Psychology.”

"In the last talk of this year’s Expanding Empathy series, Dr. Everett will join us to discuss how we can motivate prosocial actions for the collective good, through the lens of utilitarianism,” said C. Daryl Cameron, convener of the Rock Ethics Institute’s Moral Agency and Moral Development Initiative. “Over this series, we have seen how people manage empathy across different entities and contexts, and most recently, scale up collective concern with COVID-19. The final talk will consider this theme of scaling up empathetic concern broadly and impartially to maximize outcomes for the world.”

Everett noted there has been much work in the field of moral psychology around classic trolley-problem dilemmas to shed light on the psychological processes and individual differences associated with “utilitarianism.” But, he said, there is another key dimension of utilitarianism — impartial beneficence.

“This is the dimension associated with utilitarian calls to expand our moral circle and impartially act to achieve the greater good, regardless of the cost to ourselves,” Everett says. “To, for example, donate much more of our income to effective charities around the world, adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet, even become a living organ donor.

“I will discuss recent work investigating the kinds of individual differences that are associated with such impartial beneficence, the psychological processes that might underlie such impartial promotion of the greater good and the distinct consequences that impartial beneficence and instrumental harm have for social evaluation.”

Admission to the online event is free, but pre-registration is required.

Cameron and Everett also will be holding an informal meet-and-greet before Everett’s lecture, beginning at approximately 12:00 p.m. EDT before Everett’s lecture. Anyone interested in joining that session can reach out directly to Daryl Cameron for more information.

The Expanding Empathy lectures are aimed toward a broad, interdisciplinary audience, and they are open to faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students, and the public.

While Everett’s talk marks the end of the solo lectures in the 2021 Expanding Empathy series, there are plans to get several of the speakers together for a capstone panel discussion on April 21. That panel discussion will begin at 3 p.m. Additional details are still being ironed out, and more information will be forthcoming.

Past years’ presentations in the Expanding Empathy lecture series are available here.

The series is supported by Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts and College of Health and Human Development, as well as the Department of Psychology, the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, and the Penn State University Libraries.

As part of his broader research and outreach on empathy and generosity, series organizer Daryl Cameron is supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Established in 2001 through the support of Doug and Julie Rock, the Rock Ethics Institute promotes engaged ethics research and ethical leadership from its home in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts.

  • Image of Jim A.C. Everett

    Jim A.C. Everett
    Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Psychology
    University of Kent

    IMAGE: Image: University of Kent
  • Photo of Daryl Cameron

    Daryl Cameron
    Research Associate, Rock Ethics Institute
    Asst. Professor of Psychology
    Penn State College of the Liberal Arts

    IMAGE: Penn State
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Last Updated April 12, 2021