Chelsea Schein

Chelsea Schein

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    627.2 Jon M. Huntsman Hall

Research Interests: empirical business ethics, moral psychology, political psychology, moral responsibility, political tolerance

Links: CV


Dr. Schein is a Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in Legal Studies and Business Ethics at Wharton. She received her PhD in Social Psychology from UNC, Chapel Hill.  Dr. Schein has over 15 publications in top-tier academic journals as well as the New York Times. In her research, she adopt methods of social cognition to explore how people form moral judgments and how understanding our moral psychology can increase well-being and create a more tolerant society. Currently, she is examining how organizations can best navigate political polarization.

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Understanding Moral Cognition

In my research, I use methods of social cognition to explore the underlying structure of moral judgments. More specifically, I look at how people form moral judgments, how emotions play a role in these judgments, and how moral judgments impact our perceptions of the world. My research suggests that at the heart of moral cognition is a harm based template of intentional agent + causing damage + suffering victim. This template guides our moral judgments, and also shapes perceptions. As soon as an act enters the moral sphere, our perceptions of reality are filtered through a harm shaped lens, making “harmless” moral violations theoretically possible, though psychologically rare.

Understanding and Navigating Political Polarization

In an era of fraught political debates, it might seem like there is an insurmountable divide between liberals and conservatives. One predominant model of morality suggests that moral differences in specific moral issues (e.g. same-sex marriage) reflect fundamental differences in our underlying moral psychology. In contrast, my research suggests that despite descriptive moral diversity, liberals and conservatives share a common moral template centered around harm. I am currently exploring whether appeals to this common denominator of harm can increase political tolerance.


Past Courses


    This course explores business responsibility from rival theoretical and managerial perspectives. Its focus includes theories of ethics and their application to case studies in business. Topics include moral issues in advertising and sales; hiring and promotion; financial management; corporate pollution; product safety; and decision-making across borders and cultures.


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The world reacted with wonder when Americans sent the first astronauts to moon 50 years ago this week. But there was a dark side to the space race. In his new book, Fraser MacDonald recounts some of the Cold War’s forgotten history.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2019/07/16
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By going public, Virgin Galactic will be able to tap the capital it needs to fuel its engines for the space tourism race.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2019/07/16
So Your Company Has a Vision: Why Can’t Everyone See It?

New Wharton research looks at why some vision statements are more powerful than others, and how leaders can craft them effectively.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2019/07/15