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Monday, February 25, 2013

So wrong

 

Less Power = Less Human? Effects of Power Differentials on Dehumanization

Jason Gwinn, Charles Judd & Bernadette Park
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, May 2013, Pages 464-470

Abstract:
Two experiments demonstrated that power leads to dehumanizing others, adding to our understanding of how power affects interpersonal perception. Undergraduate participants in dyads were assigned to unequal power roles before interacting cooperatively in a mock hiring-task for Experiment 1 and competitively in a game for Experiment 2. After interacting, participants rated each other on personality traits that vary in how much they are a uniquely human trait (UH; e.g. a trait that typically distinguishes humans from animals). In both experiments, high-power participants attributed fewer uniquely human traits to low-power participants than vice versa, meaning they animalistically dehumanized a fellow student from the same university. This dehumanization occurred even while high-power participants did not evaluatively derogate low-power participants. We argue that power differences can result in perceived disparities in humanity, perhaps because UH can both express and justify power.

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Default Options In Advance Directives Influence How Patients Set Goals For End-Of-Life Care

Scott Halpern et al.
Health Affairs, February 2013, Pages 408-417

Abstract:
Although decisions regarding end-of-life care are personal and important, they may be influenced by the ways in which options are presented. To test this hypothesis, we randomly assigned 132 seriously ill patients to complete one of three types of advance directives. Two types had end-of-life care options already checked - a default choice - but one of these favored comfort-oriented care, and the other, life-extending care. The third type was a standard advance directive with no options checked. We found that most patients preferred comfort-oriented care, but the defaults influenced those choices. For example, 77 percent of patients in the comfort-oriented group retained that choice, while 43 percent of those in the life-extending group rejected the default choice and selected comfort-oriented care instead. Among the standard advance directive group, 61 percent of patients selected comfort-oriented care. Our findings suggest that patients may not hold deep-seated preferences regarding end-of-life care. The findings provide motivation for future research examining whether using default options in advance directives may improve important outcomes, including patients' receipt of wanted and unwanted services, resource use, survival, and quality of life.

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The Burden of Guilt: Heavy Backpacks, Light Snacks, and Enhanced Morality

Maryam Kouchaki, Francesca Gino & Ata Jami
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
Drawing on the embodied simulation account of emotional information processing, we argue that the physical experience of weight is associated with the emotional experience of guilt and thus that weight intensifies the experience of guilt. Across 4 studies, we found that participants who wore a heavy backpack experienced higher levels of guilt compared to those who wore a light backpack. Additionally, wearing a heavy backpack affected participants' behavior. Specifically, it led them to be more likely to choose healthy snacks over guilt-inducing ones and boring tasks over fun ones. It also led participants to cheat less. Importantly, self-reported guilt mediated the effect of wearing a heavy backpack on these behaviors. Our studies also examined the mechanism behind these effects and demonstrated that participants processed guilty stimuli more fluently when experiencing physical weight.

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Sweatshop labor is wrong unless the shoes are cute: Cognition can both help and hurt moral motivated reasoning

Neeru Paharia, Kathleen Vohs & Rohit Deshpandé
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, forthcoming

Abstract:
The present research investigated the dual role of cognition as either an enabler of moral reasoning or self-interested motivated reasoning for endorsing sweatshop labor. Experiment 1A showed motivated reasoning: participants were more likely to endorse the use of sweatshop labor when considering a Caribbean vacation with questionable labor practices for themselves than for their friends. Experiment 1B demonstrated that endorsement of sweatshop labor mediated the relationship between product desirability and purchase intention. Experiment 2 found that cognitive resources were recruited to enhance motivated reasoning regarding sweatshop labor, the latter of which was reduced under cognitive load. Experiments 3A and 3B found that when cognitive resources were specifically directed in a comparative joint evaluation, participants offered harsher views on the ethicality of a favored company, and were less influenced by motivated factors than when under separate evaluations.

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Using a Bug-Killing Paradigm to Understand How Social Validation and Invalidation Affect the Distress of Killing

David Webber et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming

Abstract:
Clinical evidence demonstrates that killing among soldiers at war predicts their experience of long-lasting trauma/distress. Killing leads to distress, in part, due to guilt experienced from violating moral standards. Because social consensus shapes what actions are perceived as moral and just, we hypothesized that social validation for killing would reduce guilt, whereas social invalidation would exacerbate it. To examine this possibility in a laboratory setting, participants were led to kill bugs in an "extermination task." Perceptions of social validation/invalidation were manipulated through the supposed actions of a confederate (Study 1) or numerous previous participants (Study 2) that agreed or refused to kill bugs. Distress measures focused on trauma-related guilt. Higher levels of distress were observed when individuals perceived their actions as invalidated as opposed to when they perceived their actions as socially validated. Implications for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experienced by soldiers and the paradoxical nature of publicly expressing antiwar sentiments are discussed.

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Preferences for Truthfulness: Heterogeneity among and within Individuals

Rajna Gibson, Carmen Tanner & Alexander Wagner
American Economic Review, February 2013, Pages 532-548

Abstract:
We conduct an experiment assessing the extent to which people trade off the economic costs of truthfulness against the intrinsic costs of lying. The results allow us to reject a type-based model. People's preferences for truthfulness do not identify them as only either "economic types" (who care only about consequences) or "ethical types" (who care only about process). Instead, we find that preferences for truthfulness are heterogeneous among individuals. Moreover, when examining possible sources of intrinsic costs of lying and their interplay with economic costs of truthfulness, we find that preferences for truthfulness are also heterogeneous within individuals.

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Psychological Distance Increases Uncompromising Consequentialism

Pilar Aguilar, Silvina Brussino & José-Miguel Fernández-Dols
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, May 2013, Pages 449-452

Abstract:
Individuals can follow their moral norms, or opt for a means-end, consequentialist reasoning, in which a valuable consequence (e.g., to save the lives of five people) justifies the tolls incurred even if they clash with basic moral principles (e.g., to kill one person). Psychological distance gives rise to an abstract representation of actions that makes goals more prominent and can help us ignore their immediate effects. For these reasons, psychological distance should increase consequentialism. Three experiments confirmed that different manipulations of psychological distance increased participants' consequentialist choices, such as the killing of innocent victims in the service of valued ends.

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Moral Mind-Sets: Abstract Thinking Increases a Preference for "Individualizing" Over "Binding" Moral Foundations

Jaime Napier & Jamie Luguri
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
Moral foundations theory contends that people's morality goes beyond concerns about justice and welfare, and asserts that humans have five innate foundations of morality: harm and fairness (individualizing foundations) and in-group loyalty, deference to authority, and purity (binding foundations). The current research investigates whether people's moral judgments are consistently informed by these five values, or whether individualizing and binding foundations might be differentially endorsed depending on individuals' mind-sets. Results from our study demonstrated that when participants were experimentally manipulated to think abstractly (vs. concretely), which presumably makes their higher level core values salient, they increased in their valuations of the individualizing foundations and decreased in their valuations of the binding foundations. This effect was not moderated by political ideology. Implications and areas for future directions are discussed.

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Power, Moral Clarity, and Punishment in the Workplace

Scott Wiltermuth & Francis Flynn
Academy of Management Journal, forthcoming

Abstract:
We propose that power increases how severely people punish a transgressor. Further, we argue that this greater severity stems from an increased sense of moral clarity instilled by the psychological experience of power. We investigate the linkages among power, moral clarity, and punishment across multiple studies. Individuals with an increased sense of power advocated more severe punishments for transgressors than did those with a diminished sense of power. Further, moral clarity mediated the link between power and severity of punishment. We discuss the implications of these findings for managers in organizations and researchers interested in punitive reactions to moral transgressions.

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Integrity's place among the character strengths of middle-level managers and top-level executives

William Gentry et al.
Leadership Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract:
One purpose of this study was to extend integrity research in organizations into the ranks of middle management. We therefore examined whether middle-level managers' behavioral manifestations of integrity related to ratings of their performance. Results of hierarchical regression analysis indicated that direct report ratings of a middle-level manager's integrity were positively related to boss ratings of that manager's performance. A second purpose of this study was to understand differences in integrity's relative importance to performance among other character strengths, and as a function of context (e.g., managerial level). We extend research in this area by showing, through relative weight analysis, that integrity was relatively less important to middle-level managers' current performance compared to other character strengths (e.g., social intelligence). In contrast, integrity was relatively more important for the performance of top-level executives - roles middle-level managers may hold in the future. Implications of these results for future research and practice as well as the current study's limitations are discussed.

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Self-Harm Focus Leads to Greater Collective Guilt: The Case of the U.S.-Iraq Conflict

Daniel Sullivan et al.
Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Collective guilt from harm one's group has caused an out-group is often undermined because people minimize or legitimize the harm done (i.e., they generate exonerating cognitions). When a group action has harmed both the in-group and an out-group, focusing people on "self-harm" - ways in which the in-group has harmed itself - may elicit more collective guilt because self-harm is less likely to be exonerated. In Study 1, American participants who focused on how the invasion of Iraq had harmed the United States expressed greater collective guilt over harm inflicted on the people of Iraq than those who focused on Iraqi suffering. Study 2 showed that this effect is due to reductions in exonerating cognitions among people focused on self-harm. We consider the implications of these findings for intergroup reconciliation, particularly in situations where two groups have been involved in open conflict.

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Masters of the Universe: How Power and Accountability Influence Self-Serving Decisions Under Moral Hazard

Marko Pitesa & Stefan Thau
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article provides an answer to the question of why agents make self-serving decisions under moral hazard and how their self-serving decisions can be kept in check through institutional arrangements. Our theoretical model predicts that the agents' power and the manner in which they are held accountable jointly determine their propensity to make self-serving decisions. We test our theory in the context of financial investment decisions made under moral hazard using others' funds. Across 3 studies, using different decision-making tasks, different manipulations of power and accountability, and different samples, we show that agents' power makes them more likely to behave in a self-serving manner under moral hazard, but only when the appropriate accountability mechanisms are not in place. Specifically, we distinguish between outcome and procedural accountability and show that holding agents accountable for their decision-making procedure reduces the level of self-serving decisions under moral hazard and also curbs the negative consequences of power. Implications for decisions under moral hazard, the psychology of power, and the accountability literature are discussed.

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Look at yourself! Visual perspective influences moral judgment by level of mental construal

Jens Agerström, Fredrik Björklund & Rickard Carlsson
Social Psychology, Winter 2013, Pages 42-46

Abstract:
Previous research (Libby, Shaeffer, & Eibach, 2009) has established that a third-person (external) visual perspective elicits more abstract processing than a first-person (inner) perspective. Because many moral principles constitute abstract psychological constructs, we predicted that they should weigh more heavily when people adopt a third-person visual perspective. In two experiments we show that a third- (vs. first-) person visual perspective leads to harsher judgments of one's own morally questionable actions. Moreover, we demonstrate that this effect can be partially explained by level of mental construal. The present research suggests that simple visual perspective techniques may be used to promote moral behavior.

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Reminders of mortality decrease midcingulate activity in response to others' suffering

Siyang Luo et al.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Reminders of mortality influence human social cognition, but whether and how reminders of mortality affect brain activity underlying social cognition remains unclear. To test whether increasing mortality salience modulates neural responses to others' suffering, we scanned healthy adults who viewed video clips showing others in pain using functional magnetic resonance imaging. One group of participants were primed to increase mortality salience and another group were primed with negative affect in terms of fear/anxiety. We found that perceiving painful vs non-painful stimuli in the pre-priming session activated the midcingulate/dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (MCC/dMPFC), bilateral anterior insula/inferior frontal cortex, bilateral secondary somatosensory cortex and left middle temporal gyrus. However, MCC/dMPFC activity in response to perceived pain in others was significantly decreased in the post-priming session by the mortality salience priming, but was not influenced by the negative affect priming. Moreover, subjective fear of death induced by the priming procedures mediated the change in MCC/dMPFC activity across the priming procedures. Subjective fear of death also moderated the co-variation of MCC/dMPFC and left insular activity during perception of others in pain. Our findings indicate that reminders of mortality decrease neural responses to others' suffering and this effect is mediated by the subjective fear of death.

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Predicting Moral Outrage and Religiosity with an Implicit Measure of Moral Identity

Megan Johnston, Amanda Sherman & Joan Grusec
Journal of Research in Personality, June 2013, Pages 209-217

Abstract:
Previous research on moral identity (the use of moral values to define the self) suggests that implicit measurement of moral identity better predicts real-life moral actions than explicit measurement. We extended this work by considering the relation between explicit and implicit measures of moral identity, moral outrage, and religion. Implicit, but not explicit, moral identity predicted increases in heart rate and diastolic blood pressure from control conditions in response to moral violations, whereas explicit but not implicit moral identity predicted religiosity. These results help to validate the use of implicit measurements of moral identity while also identifying a relation between moral identity and physiological reactions to moral violations.

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Nie Wieder: Group-Based Emotions for In-Group Wrongdoing Affect Attitudes toward Unrelated Minorities

Jonas Rees, Jesse Allpress & Rupert Brown
Political Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article focuses on the effects of group-based emotions for in-group wrongdoing on attitudes towards seemingly unrelated groups. Two forms of shame are distinguished from one another and from guilt and linked to positive and negative attitudes towards an unrelated minority. In Study 1 (N = 203), Germans' feelings of moral shame - arising from the belief that the in-group's Nazi past violates an important moral value - are associated with increased support for Turks living in Germany. Image shame - arising from a threatened social image - is associated with increased social distance. In Study 2 (N = 301), Britons' emotions regarding atrocities committed by in-group members during the war in Iraq have similar links with attitudes towards Pakistani immigrants. We extend the findings of Study 1 by demonstrating that the effects are mediated by a sense of moral obligation and observed more strongly when the unrelated group is perceived as similar to the harmed group. Guilt was unrelated to any outcome variable across both studies. Theoretical and practical implications about the nature of group-based emotions and their potential for affecting wider intergroup relations are discussed.

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Deconstructing the brain's moral network: Dissociable functionality between the temporoparietal junction and ventro-medial prefrontal cortex

Oriel FeldmanHall, Dean Mobbs & Tim Dalgleish
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
Research has illustrated that the brain regions implicated in moral cognition comprise a robust and broadly distributed network. However, understanding how these brain regions interact and give rise to the complex interplay of cognitive processes underpinning human moral cognition is still in its infancy. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine patterns of activation for ‘difficult' and ‘easy' moral decisions relative to matched non-moral comparators. This revealed an activation pattern consistent with a relative functional double dissociation between the temporoparietal junction (TPJ) and ventro-medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Difficult moral decisions activated bilateral TPJ and deactivated the vmPFC and OFC. In contrast, easy moral decisions revealed patterns of activation in the vmPFC and deactivation in bilateral TPJ and dorsolateral PFC. Together these results suggest that moral cognition is a dynamic process implemented by a distributed network that involves interacting, yet functionally dissociable networks.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM