Journal article

It's not what you do, but what everyone else does: On the role of descriptive norms and subjectivism in moral judgment

Andrew E Monroe, Kyle D Dillon, Steve Guglielmo, Roy F Baumeister

JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY | ACADEMIC PRESS INC ELSEVIER SCIENCE | Published : 2018

Abstract

How do people evaluate moral actions, by referencing objective rules or by appealing to subjective, descriptive norms of behavior? Five studies examined whether and how people incorporate subjective, descriptive norms of behavior into their moral evaluations and mental state inferences of an agent's actions. We used experimental norm manipulations (Studies 1–2, 4), cultural differences in tipping norms (Study 3), and behavioral economic games (Study 5). Across studies, people increased the magnitude of their moral judgments when an agent exceeded a descriptive norm and decreased the magnitude when an agent fell below a norm (Studies 1–4). Moreover, this differentiation was partially explaine..

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