Journal article

Beyond aesthetic judgment: Beauty increases moral standing

Christoph Klebl, Yin Luo, Brock Bastian

Center for Open Science

Abstract

Researchers have identified several factors that may increase the moral standing people place on various entities (e.g., mind perception). We suggest perceptions of beauty also signal that targets possess moral standing and therefore are worthy of protection. In three studies, we found people attribute greater moral standing to beautiful (vs. ugly) animals (Study 1; Study 5a, pre-registered) and humans (Study 2). In an additional three studies, we found this effect also extends to non-sentient targets, that is, people perceive beautiful (vs. ugly) landscapes (Study 3) and buildings (Study 4; Study 5b, pre-registered) as possessing greater moral standing. Across all studies (N = 1,662), we fo..

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