An Intentions-Based Account: Why Perspective-Taking can both Decrease and Increase Moral Condemnation
Lucas, Brian; Galinsky, Adam; Murnighan, Keith
Perspective-taking often increases generosity in behavior and attributions. We present an intentions-based account to explain how perspective-taking can both decrease and increase moral condemnation. Consistent with past research, we predicted perspective-taking would reduce condemnation when the perspective-taker initially attributed benevolent intent to a transgressor. However, we predicted perspective-taking would increase condemnation when malevolent intentions were initially attributed to the wrongdoer. We propose that perspective-taking amplifies the intentions initially attributed to a transgressor. Three studies measured and manipulated intention attributions and found that perspective-taking increased condemnation when malevolent intentions were initially attributed to a transgressor. Perspective-taking also increased costly punishment of a transgressor, an effect mediated by malevolent intentions. In contrast, empathy did not increase punitive responses, supporting its conceptual distinction from perspective-taking. Whether perspective-taking leads to forgiveness or condemnation depends on the intentions the perspective-taker initially attributes to a transgressor.
perspective-taking; moral judgement; unethical behavior; intentions
Previously Published As
Lucas, B. J., Galinsky, A. D., & Murnighan, K. J. (2016). An intentions-based account: Why perspective-taking can both decrease and increase moral condemnation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 42(11), pp. 1480-1489.
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