Deformative Experience: Explaining the Effects of Adversity on Moral Evaluation

Social Cognition (Forthcoming)

56 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2023

See all articles by Philip Robbins

Philip Robbins

University of Missouri - Department of Philosophy

Fernando Alvear

University of Missouri - Department of Philosophy

Date Written: June 10, 2023

Abstract

Recent research suggests that moral behavior attracts more praise, and immoral behavior less blame, when the agent has suffered in childhood. In this paper we report results from three studies in which a fictional character’s childhood was described in terms of either neglect and abuse (Adversity condition), love and care (Prosperity condition), or neutrally (Control condition). In Study 1 (N = 248), participants in the Adversity condition attributed more praise to a fictional character relative to other conditions. In Study 2 (N = 275), participants in the Adversity condition attributed more praise and less blame relative to other conditions, with the effects mediated by self-expressivity. In Study 3 (N = 275), where the character was female rather than male, there was no effect of condition on praise, but there was an effect of condition on blame, and this effect was mediated by self-expressivity and social-emotional impairment.

Keywords: praise; blame; attribution; morality; character; gender stereotyping

Suggested Citation

Robbins, Philip and Alvear, Fernando, Deformative Experience: Explaining the Effects of Adversity on Moral Evaluation (June 10, 2023). Social Cognition (Forthcoming), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4500500

Philip Robbins (Contact Author)

University of Missouri - Department of Philosophy ( email )

435 Middlebush Hall
Columbia, MO Columbia 65211
United States
5738822764 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://philosophy.missouri.edu/people/robbins

Fernando Alvear

University of Missouri - Department of Philosophy ( email )

Columbia, MO 65203
United States

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