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About us Practical matters How to find us dr. L.B. (Laetitia ) Mulder

dr. L.B. (Laetitia ) Mulder

Associate Professor (with IUS promovendi)

Generally my research is about “The regulation of moral behavior”. In my research I study how people regulate their own (im)moral behavior themselves (moral compensatory versus consistency behavior) or how moral behavior can be regulated by authorities (by means of sanctions, rules and moral appeals), and by peers (by means of social confrontation). I also focus on moralization of health related behavior (overweight and vaccination). Below more elaborate descriptions of my research projects can be found.   


Development of unethical behavior

How do people deal with their own unethical behavior? When they have lied or cheated, will they be inclined to continue with that?  Or do they feel guilty and try to compensate and behave more morally in future? And what determines whether or not someone continues to behave unethically? In other words: what makes people escalate in their immoral behavior? In this research I focus on the role of moral rationalizations, type of unethical behavior and personal dispositions.


Sanctions, rules and laws

How do you influence behavior by means of a mandate, law or sanction? Also, how, and under what conditions, do such policies shape (moral) norms? Sanctions have been shown to steer behavior, but also suffer from negative psychological effects such as reactance, decrease in trust, and the inducement of a calculative mindset. Still, rules and laws, as well as sanctions, do have a moral connotation as they show what behavior is morally disapproved of. In this sense, such policies may (help) shape moral norms in a positive way both in terms of personal norms and in terms of social norms (through social confrontation). This line of research focuses on the conditions that determine whether rules, laws and sanctions foster moral norms, also in the long run.


Framing of rules 

What works better: specifically or generally formulated rules? Specific rules are more clear behavioral guidelines, but they suffer from the disadvantage that their invoke a limited focus and may invite people to look for loopholes in the law. General rules are more comprehensive and better communicate underlying values and principles. However, they leave room for people to self-interestedly rationalize and justify their unethical acts. We are studying the conditions that make general rules more effective. This line of research aims to give insight into under what conditions specific rules are more effective and under what conditions general rules are more effective. It has various fields of applications, such as laws, contracts, covenants, and codes of conduct.

Health programs and own responsibility in health

In current times there is a lot of knowledge about the effects of nutrition and physical exercise on health. As a result, people are regularly told by the media, policy makers, and physicians, what they can do to be healthy. This may result in the general idea that health is something within the control of an individual, and that it is an individual´s own “fault” if (s)he is ill, overweight, or burned-out. So, what are the effects of stressing people’s own responsibility in health? On the one hand, stressing people’s own responsibility may successfully induce people to adopt a healthy life-style. On the other hand, it may also induce stigmatization and discrimination towards those who suffer from chronic illnesses, are overweight, etc. My research has shown that moralization of overweight can have adverse effects for those with relatively high weights. Also, it has demonstrating that health programs that appeal to one’s own responsibility may inadvertedly foster stigmatization of people who are overweight.

Last modified:24 June 2022 11.53 p.m.