Why do good people do bad things? It's a question that has been pondered for centuries, and new research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology may offer some insights about when people succumb to versus resist ethical temptations.
"People often think that bad people do bad things and good people do good things, and that unethical behavior just comes down to character," says lead research author Oliver Sheldon, PhD.
How do humans make moral judgments? This has been an ongoing and unresolved debate in psychology, and with good reason. Moral judgments aren’t just opinions. They are the decisions with which we condemn others to social exclusion, jail, and even violent retaliation. Given their weight, moral judgments are often assumed to be rational, though recent psychological research has suggested that they may be more like gut feelings.
Here's an article titled The Seductive Allure of Neuroscience and the Science of Persuasion generously shared by Jay van Bavel (@jayvanbavel) and Dominic Packer (@PackerLab), originally written for Scientific American's Mind blog, and well worth a read. Here's an excerpt:
For all you psychologists out there, there's a fantastic opportunity to put your research to good use, but you'll have to be quick about it, the deadline's on Friday. Perspectives on Psychological Science has put out a call for proposals for what you would do if the President had a Council of Psychological Advisors, and you were tasked with writing a memo to use psychology to design or improve policy.
You might not have realized it, but you could have racially discriminated against someone recently. Maybe you walked a little quicker when you saw a guy walking across the street from you. Or perhaps you were less friendly than you usually would be around a new co-worker. If you’re guilty of these subtle biases, you’re not alone.