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Do You Feel the Same? The Effect of Outcome Severity on Moral Judgment and Interpersonal Goals of Perpetrators, Victims, and Bystanders


Frisch, Lisa Katharina; Kneer, Markus; Krueger, Joachim Israel; Ullrich, Johannes (2020). Do You Feel the Same? The Effect of Outcome Severity on Moral Judgment and Interpersonal Goals of Perpetrators, Victims, and Bystanders. : PsyArXiv.

Abstract

When two actors have exactly the same mental states but one happens to harm another person (unlucky actor) and the other one does not (lucky actor), the latter elicits milder moral judgment among bystanders. We hypothesized that the social role from which transgressions are perceived would moderate this outcome effect. In three preregistered experiments (N = 950), we randomly assigned participants to imagine and respond to moral scenarios as actor (i.e., perpetrator), victim, or bystander. Results revealed highly similar outcome effects on moral judgment across social roles. However, as predicted, the social role moderated the strength of the outcome effect on interpersonal goals pertaining to agency and communion. Although in agreement about the blameworthiness of lucky and unlucky actors, victims’ agency and communion were more sensitive to the outcome severity than perpetrators’ agency and communion, with bystanders’ outcome sensitivity falling in between. Outcome severity affected agency and communion directly instead of being mediated by moral judgment. We discuss the possibility that outcome severity raises normative expectations regarding interaction in a transgression’s aftermath that are unrelated to moral considerations.

Abstract

When two actors have exactly the same mental states but one happens to harm another person (unlucky actor) and the other one does not (lucky actor), the latter elicits milder moral judgment among bystanders. We hypothesized that the social role from which transgressions are perceived would moderate this outcome effect. In three preregistered experiments (N = 950), we randomly assigned participants to imagine and respond to moral scenarios as actor (i.e., perpetrator), victim, or bystander. Results revealed highly similar outcome effects on moral judgment across social roles. However, as predicted, the social role moderated the strength of the outcome effect on interpersonal goals pertaining to agency and communion. Although in agreement about the blameworthiness of lucky and unlucky actors, victims’ agency and communion were more sensitive to the outcome severity than perpetrators’ agency and communion, with bystanders’ outcome sensitivity falling in between. Outcome severity affected agency and communion directly instead of being mediated by moral judgment. We discuss the possibility that outcome severity raises normative expectations regarding interaction in a transgression’s aftermath that are unrelated to moral considerations.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Scientific Publication in Electronic Form
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2020
Deposited On:03 Feb 2020 16:39
Last Modified:03 Feb 2020 16:40
Publisher:PsyArXiv
Number of Pages:68
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/9gnw6
Official URL:https://psyarxiv.com/9gnw6/

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