From impure to harmful : asymmetric expectations about immoral agents

Chakroff, Alek and Russell, Pascale Sophieke and Piazza, Jared Raymond and Young, Liane (2017) From impure to harmful : asymmetric expectations about immoral agents. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 69. pp. 201-209. ISSN 0022-1031

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How does information about agents' past violations influence people's expectations about their future actions? We examined this question, with a focus on the contrast between past harmful and past impure actions. Participants' judgments reflected two independent influences: action consistency and expectation asymmetry. An expectation asymmetry was observed across seven studies, including two pilot studies and two supplemental studies: impure agents were judged as more likely to be harmful than harmful agents were judged likely to be impure. This expectation asymmetry is not due to an expectation that impure agents will be globally deviant, i.e., likely to commit all kinds of violations (Study 1), nor is it due to differences in the perceived wrongness or weirdness of harmful versus impure acts (Study 2). Study 3 demonstrated that this asymmetry is not attributable to the perceived harmfulness of impure actions; only impure agents, and not harmful agents, were expected to be more harmful than they were previously. These findings highlight an important asymmetry in the way people make predictions about future wrongdoing: immoral agents are expected to behave consistently, and are also expected to be harmful, regardless of their prior violation.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 69, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2016.08.001
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? moralityharmpuritymoral judgmentbehavior expectationsocial psychologysociology and political science ??
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Deposited On:
25 Aug 2016 10:02
Last Modified:
31 Dec 2023 00:43