Authority dependence and judgments of utilitarian harm

Piazza, Jared and Sousa, Paulo and Holbrook, Colin (2013) Authority dependence and judgments of utilitarian harm. Cognition, 128 (3). pp. 261-270. ISSN 0010-0277

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Abstract

Three studies tested the conditions under which people judge utilitarian harm to be authority dependent (i.e., whether its right or wrongness depends on the ruling of an authority). In Study 1, participants judged the right or wrongness of physical abuse when used as an interrogation method anticipated to yield useful information for preventing future terrorist attacks. The ruling of the military authority towards the harm was manipulated (prohibited vs. prescribed) and found to significantly influence judgments of the right or wrongness of inflicting harm. Study 2 established a boundary condition with regards to the influence of authority, which was eliminated when the utility of the harm was definitely obtained rather than forecasted. Finally, Study 3 replicated the findings of Studies 1–2 in a completely different context—an expert committee’s ruling about the harming of chimpanzees for biomedical research. These results are discussed as they inform ongoing debates regarding the role of authority in moderating judgments of complex and simple harm.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Cognition
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1200/1203
Subjects:
ID Code:
71078
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
02 Oct 2014 13:45
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
03 Mar 2020 08:35