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Thursday, January 17, 2013

The right choice

 

For Whom Do the Ends Justify the Means? Social Class and Utilitarian Moral Judgment

Stéphane Côté, Paul Piff & Robb Willer
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Though scholars have speculated for centuries on links between individuals' social class standing and approach to moral reasoning, little systematic research exists on how class and morality are associated. Here, we investigate whether the tendency of upper-class individuals to exhibit reduced empathy makes them more likely to resist intuitionist options in moral dilemmas, instead favoring utilitarian choices that maximize the greatest good for the greatest number. In Study 1, upper-class participants were more likely than lower-class participants to choose the utilitarian option in the footbridge dilemma, which evokes relatively strong moral intuitions, but not in the standard trolley dilemma, which evokes relatively weak moral intuitions. In Study 2, upper-class participants were more likely to take resources from one person to benefit several others in an allocation task, and this association was explained by their lower empathy for the person whose resources were taken. Finally, in Study 3, the association between social class and utilitarian judgment was reduced in a condition in which empathy was induced, but not in a control condition, suggesting that reduced empathy helps account for the utilitarianism of upper-class individuals.

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Moral realism as moral motivation: The impact of meta-ethics on everyday decision-making

Liane Young & A.J. Durwin
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, March 2013, Pages 302-306

Abstract:
People disagree about whether "moral facts" are objective facts like mathematical truths (moral realism) or simply products of the human mind (moral antirealism). What is the impact of different meta-ethical views on actual behavior? In Experiment 1, a street canvasser, soliciting donations for a charitable organization dedicated to helping impoverished children, primed passersby with realism or antirealism. Participants primed with realism were twice as likely to be donors, compared to control participants and participants primed with antirealism. In Experiment 2, online participants primed with realism as opposed to antirealism reported being willing to donate more money to a charity of their choice. Considering the existence of non-negotiable moral facts may have raised the stakes and motivated participants to behave better. These results therefore reveal the impact of meta-ethics on everyday decision-making: priming a belief in moral realism improved moral behavior.

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Seeing green: Mere exposure to money triggers a business decision frame and unethical outcomes

Maryam Kouchaki et al.
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, forthcoming

Abstract:
Can mere exposure to money corrupt? In four studies, we examined the likelihood of unethical outcomes when the construct of money was activated through the use of priming techniques. The results of Study 1 demonstrated that individuals primed with money were more likely to demonstrate unethical intentions than those in the control group. In Study 2, we showed that participants primed with money were more likely to adopt a business decision frame. In Studies 3 and 4, we found that money cues triggered a business decision frame, which led to a greater likelihood of unethical intentions and behavior. Together, the results of these studies demonstrate that mere exposure to money can trigger unethical intentions and behavior and that decision frame mediates this effect.

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Angry Judges

Terry Maroney
Vanderbilt Law Review, September/October 2012, Pages 1207-1286

Abstract:
Judges get angry. Law, however, is of two minds as to whether they should; more importantly, it is of two minds as to whether judges' anger should influence their behavior and decisionmaking. On the one hand, anger is the quintessentially judicial emotion. It involves appraisal of wrongdoing, attribution of blame, and assignment of punishment - precisely what we ask of judges. On the other, anger is associated with aggression, impulsivity, and irrationality. Aristotle, through his concept of virtue, proposed reconciling this conflict by asking whether a person is angry at the right people, for the right reasons, and in the right way. Modern affective psychology, for its part, offers empirical tools with which to determine whether and when anger conforms to Aristotelian virtue. This Article weaves these strands together to propose a new model of judicial anger: that of the righteously angry judge. The righteously angry judge is angry for good reasons; experiences and expresses that anger in a well-regulated manner; and uses her anger to motivate and carry out the tasks within her delegated authority. Offering not only the first comprehensive descriptive account of judicial anger but also the first theoretical model for how such anger ought to be evaluated, the Article demonstrates how judicial behavior and decisionmaking can benefit by harnessing anger - the most common and potent judicial emotion - in service of righteousness.

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"Black and White" Thinking: Visual Contrast Polarizes Moral Judgment

Theodora Zarkadi & Simone Schnall
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Recent research has emphasized the role of intuitive processes in morality by documenting the link between affect and moral judgment. The present research tested whether incidental visual cues without any affective connotation can similarly shape moral judgment by priming a certain mindset. In two experiments we showed that exposure to an incidental black and white visual contrast leads people to think in a "black and white" manner, as indicated by more extreme moral judgments. Participants who were primed with a black and white chequered background while considering a moral dilemma (Experiment 1) or a series of social issues (Experiment 2) gave ratings that were significantly further from the response scale's mid-point, relative to participants in control conditions without such priming. These findings suggest that in addition to affective cues and gut feelings, non-affective cues relating to processing style can influence moral judgments.

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Emergence of Lying in Very Young Children

Angela Evans & Kang Lee
Developmental Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Lying is a pervasive human behavior. Evidence to date suggests that from the age of 42 months onward, children become increasingly capable of telling lies in various social situations. However, there is limited experimental evidence regarding whether very young children will tell lies spontaneously. The present study investigated the emergence of lying in very young children. Sixty-five 2- to 3-year-olds were asked not to peek at a toy when the experimenter was not looking. The majority of children (80%) transgressed and peeked at the toy. When asked whether they had peeked at the toy, most 2-year-old peekers were honest and confessed to their peeking, but with increased age, more peekers denied peeking and thus lied. However, when asked follow-up questions that assessed their ability to maintain their initial lies, most children failed to conceal their lie by pretending to be ignorant of the toy's identity. Additionally, after controlling for age, children's executive functioning skills significantly predicted young children's tendency to lie. These findings suggest that children begin to tell lies at a very young age.

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Deontological and Utilitarian Inclinations in Moral Decision Making: A Process Dissociation Approach

Paul Conway & Betram Gawronski
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Dual-process theories of moral judgment suggest that responses to moral dilemmas are guided by two moral principles: the principle of deontology states that the morality of an action depends on the intrinsic nature of the action (e.g., harming others is wrong regardless of its consequences); the principle of utilitarianism implies that the morality of an action is determined by its consequences (e.g., harming others is acceptable if it increases the well-being of a greater number of people). Despite the proposed independence of the moral inclinations reflecting these principles, previous work has relied on operationalizations in which stronger inclinations of one kind imply weaker inclinations of the other kind. The current research applied Jacoby's (1991) process dissociation procedure to independently quantify the strength of deontological and utilitarian inclinations within individuals. Study 1 confirmed the usefulness of process dissociation for capturing individual differences in deontological and utilitarian inclinations, revealing positive correlations of both inclinations to moral identity. Moreover, deontological inclinations were uniquely related to empathic concern, perspective-taking, and religiosity, whereas utilitarian inclinations were uniquely related to need for cognition. Study 2 demonstrated that cognitive load selectively reduced utilitarian inclinations, with deontological inclinations being unaffected. In Study 3, a manipulation designed to enhance empathy increased deontological inclinations, with utilitarian inclinations being unaffected. These findings provide evidence for the independent contributions of deontological and utilitarian inclinations to moral judgments, resolving many theoretical ambiguities implied by previous research.

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Misconduct in Credence Good Markets

Jennifer Brown & Dylan Minor
NBER Working Paper, December 2012

Abstract:
We study how monitoring, expert skill and consumer awareness affect the level of misconduct in markets with asymmetric information and price-taking experts. Theoretical predictions show that experts subject to more intense monitoring may be less ethical in equilibrium. Similarly, more experienced experts are predicted to exhibit greater levels of misconduct. We test these predictions in the insurance sales industry and find that monitored experts are 21 to 98% more likely to take advantage of customers, relative to unmonitored experts. We also find empirical evidence that more experienced experts are significantly more likely to mislead their customers.

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Sound morality: Irritating and icky noises amplify judgments in divergent moral domains

Angelika Seidel & Jesse Prinz
Cognition, April 2013, Pages 1-5

Abstract:
Theoretical models and correlational research suggest that anger and disgust play different roles in moral judgment. Anger is theorized to underlie reactions to crimes against persons, such as battery and unfairness, and disgust is theorized to underlie reactions to crimes against nature, such as sexual transgressions and cannibalism. To date, however, it has not been shown that induction of these two emotions has divergent effects. In this experiment we show divergent effects of anger and disgust. We use sounds to elicit anger and disgust, and participants are then asked to consider moral vignettes. As compared to disgust and control condition, anger increases severity of judgments about crimes against persons, and disgust increases severity of judgments about crimes against nature, but not conversely.

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Through the looking glass: Focusing on long-term goals increases immanent justice reasoning

Mitchell Callan et al.
British Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Immanent justice reasoning involves causally attributing a negative event to someone's prior moral failings, even when such a causal connection is physically implausible. This study examined the degree to which immanent justice represents a form of motivated reasoning in the service of satisfying the need to believe in a just world. Drawing on a manipulation that has been shown to activate justice motivation, participants causally attributed a freak accident to a man's prior immoral (vs. moral) behaviour to a greater extent when they first focused on their long-term (vs. short-term) goals. These findings highlight the important function believing in a just world plays in self-regulatory processes by implicating the self in immanent justice reasoning about fluke events in the lives of others.

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What lies beneath: How the distance between truth and lie drives dishonesty

Benjamin Hilbig & Corinna Hessler
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, March 2013, Pages 263-266

Abstract:
Based on the assumption that dishonesty poses a threat to one's self view, recent research has put forward the notion that people avoid major lies. However, existing empirical work has not tested this notion conclusively, given that studies have associated larger degrees of dishonesty with larger payoffs. It thus remains unclear whether people actually do avoid major lies or rather shy away from large (unjustified) payoffs, e.g. since the latter are generally more likely to trigger suspicion. Thus, we critically tested the hypothesis that the probability of dishonesty is a decreasing function of the distance between the actual truth and the lie that is necessary to increase ones gains. In a modified dice-game paradigm, a highly specific behavioral pattern was predicted by this hypothesis and results from a large (N=765), incentivized and fully anonymous study confirmed the latter, thus corroborating that people indeed avoid major lies.

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Belief in conspiracy theories: The influence of uncertainty and perceived morality

Jan-Willem van Prooijen & Nils Jostmann
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the present research, we examined people's tendency to endorse or question belief in conspiracy theories. In two studies, we tested the hypothesis that the perceived morality of authorities influences conspiracy beliefs, particularly when people experience uncertainty. Study 1 revealed that information about the morality of oil companies influenced beliefs that these companies were involved in planning the war in Iraq, but only when uncertainty was made salient. Similar findings were obtained in Study 2, which focused on a bogus newspaper article about a fatal car accident of a political leader in an African country. It is concluded that uncertainty leads people to make inferences about the plausibility or implausibility of conspiracy theories by attending to morality information.

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How to Detect Deception in Everyday Life and the Reasons Underlying It

Sara Agosta, Patrizia Pezzoli & Giuseppe Sartori
Applied Cognitive Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
The autobiographical Implicit Association Test (aIAT) evaluates which of two contrasting autobiographical events is true for an individual on the basis of implicit associations and corresponding reaction times in classifying sentences. In this research, white lies and corresponding reasons to lie were investigated. White lies are social lies. They are widespread in our in our daily lives, in the business world and in the forensic contexts. The ability to deceive is essential for polite interactions and, at times, self-preservation, but little research was conducted so far on this type of deception. The authors tested the efficiency of the aIAT in identifying a white lie and the real reason for producing a white lie, contrasting each participant's real motivation for lying and a false (faked) one. In both cases, aIAT differentiated truth from white lies and also identified the real reason from the faked one for all 20 participants.

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I'm Number One! Does Narcissism Impair Ethical Judgment Even for the Highly Religious?

Marjorie Cooper & Chris Pullig
Journal of Business Ethics, January 2013, Pages 167-176

Abstract:
Can an assessment of individuals' narcissism help explain the quality of a respondent's ethical judgment? How is the relationship between religiosity and ethical judgment moderated by the effects of narcissism? With a sample of 385 undergraduate business majors, this study uses a taxonomic approach to examine the effects of intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity as well as orthodox Christian beliefs on ethical judgment. Three distinct clusters were identified: Skeptics, Nominals, and Devouts. Surprisingly, of the three clusters, Nominals and Devouts were the only groups impacted by narcissism, although Skeptics overall demonstrate the worst ethical judgment.

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Corporations, Profit Maximization and the Personal Sphere

Waheed Hussain
Economics and Philosophy, November 2012, Pages 311-331

Abstract:
The efficiency argument for profit maximization says that corporations and their managers should maximize profits because this is the course of action that will lead to an ‘economically efficient' or ‘welfare maximizing' outcome (see e.g. Jensen 2001, 2002). In this paper, I argue that the fundamental problem with this argument is not that markets in the real world are less than perfect, but rather that the argument does not properly acknowledge the personal sphere. Morality allows each of us a sphere in which we are free to pursue our personal interests, even if these are not optimal from the social point of view. But the efficiency argument does not come to terms with this feature of social life.

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A repeated lie becomes a truth? The effect of intentional control and training on deception

Xiaoqing Hu, Hao Chen & Genyue Fu
Frontiers in Psychology, November 2012

Abstract:
Deception has been demonstrated as a task that involves executive control such as conflict monitoring and response inhibition. In the present study, we investigated whether or not the controlled processes associated with deception could be trained to be more efficient. Forty-eight participants finished a reaction time-based differentiation of deception paradigm (DDP) task using self- and other-referential information on two occasions. After the first baseline DDP task, participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: a control group in which participants finished the same task for a second time; an instruction group in which participants were instructed to speed up their deceptive responses in the second DDP; a training group in which participants received training in speeding up their deceptive responses, and then proceeded to the second DDP. Results showed that instruction alone significantly reduced the RTs associated with participants' deceptive responses. However, the differences between deceptive and truthful responses were erased only in the training group. The result suggests that the performance associated with deception is malleable and could be voluntarily controlled with intention or training.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM