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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Toward Transformer-Based NLP for Extracting Psychosocial Indicators of Moral Disengagement


Moral disengagement is a mechanism whereby people distance or disconnect their actions from their moral evaluation. This work presents a novel knowledge graph schema, dataset, and transformer-based NLP model to identify and represent indicators of moral disengagement in text. Our graph schema is informed by Albert Bandura’s psychosocial mechanisms of moral disengagement, including dehumanization, victimization, moral condemnation and justification, and attribution (or displacement) of responsibility. Our preliminary dataset is comprised of online posts from five different communities. We present initial evidence that (1) our theory-based schema can represent moral disengagement indicators across these communities and (2) our transformer-based NLP model can identify indicators of moral disengagement in text. As it matures, this thread of computational social science research can help us understand the spread of morally-disengaged language and its effect on online communities.

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