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Morality study finds conservatives show a ‘general insensitivity to consequences’

Sunday, June 23, 2013

When it comes to topics like abortion or assisted suicide, there seems to be no common ground between conservatives and liberals. Why is there such a noticeable rift between the two political orientations?

Research published June in Social Psychological and Personality Science suggests that religious individuals and political conservatives think about moral issues in a fundamentally different way than liberals.

The study by Jared Piazza of the University of Pennsylvania and Paulo Sousa of Queen’s University Belfast, which included a total of 688 participants, found religious individuals and political conservatives consistently invoked deontological ethics. In other words, they judged the morality of actions based on a universal rule such as, “You should not kill.” Political liberals, on the other hand, consistently invoked consequentialist ethics, meaning they judged the morality of actions based on their positive or negative outcomes.

“Does being religious or being conservative promote a rule-based ethic or does having a rule-based ethic promote religiosity and/or conservatism?” Piazza told PsyPost. “This question is difficult to answer definitively without running a longitudinal study, since you cannot really manipulate religious orientation, or being in possession of a deontological orientation, and then look at the consequences.”

The study’s cross-sectional methodology makes it impossible to say anything more than religion and conservativism are associated with deontological ethics. However, Piazza said prior research suggested that being religious underlies the adherence to deontological ethics

“I think it is more likely that being religious — and being religious in a particular way — is what promotes deontological commitments, and not the other way around,” he told PsyPost. “In a recent unpublished study I conducted with my colleague Justin Landy at Penn, we found that it is a particular sub-class of religious individuals that are strongly opposed to consequentialist thinking. Specifically, it was religious individuals who believe that morality is founded upon divine authority or divine commands, and that moral truths are not obtained via human intuition or reason, who were strong deontologists (i.e., they refused to find various rule violations as permissible even when the consequences were better as a result).”

“This suggests that not all religious individuals are non-consequentialists; that is, religion does not necessarily promote a deontological ethic, though many religious institutions do promote such an orientation,” Piazza added. “Instead, it may be that people who are skeptical about the capacity for human beings to know right from wrong in the absence of divine revelation that tend towards a rule-based morality. Though this begs the question of why some religious individuals tend to see morality in terms of honoring divine commands, while others accept that human intuition or reason may be an equally, if not more reliable, foundation. This is an interesting and complex psychological question which we don’t currently have an answer to.”

The participants in the study provided their moral position on killing, assisted suicide, torture, incest, cannibalism, malicious gossip, stealing, lying, deception, betrayal, breaking a promise, breaking the law, and treason. The researchers discovered that religious individuals and political conservatives showed a “general insensitivity to consequences.”

For instance, religious individuals and political conservatives tended to say that lying was never acceptable under any circumstances, while political liberals tended to say that lying was permissible or even obligatory if it resulted in greater good than bad.

There was a notable exception. When it came to torture, Piazza described American conservatives as “full-blown consequentialists.” But the same could not be said of religious individuals.

[More at link]:

by Anonymousreply 5806/29/2013

Is this "Today's DUH Headline"?

by Anonymousreply 106/23/2013

In other words conservatives believe what they were told in childhood, while liberals actually think about moral issues.

by Anonymousreply 206/23/2013

Shock!

by Anonymousreply 306/23/2013

I can't speak for all conservatives, but the conservatives I know personally do care about consequences, but they don't believe consequences change the morality of something. They (and I actually) believe in moral absolutes that don't change just because doing the right thing is difficult, sacrificial, or inconvenient. Of course, a lot of people who give lipservice are hypocrites, but that does not change the morality of something.

by Anonymousreply 406/23/2013

I find that the morality types have no ethics.

by Anonymousreply 506/23/2013

Conservatism attracts people who lack a fundamental degree of empathy and compassion.

by Anonymousreply 606/23/2013

I agree, R5, people who go around talking about how "moral" they are and define the world in "moral absolutes" usually end up under a mountain of hypocrisy and shit.

They're cheap televangelists at heart.

by Anonymousreply 706/23/2013

I find conservatives never seem to actually think through the consequences of any of their actions or belies. They're VERY shallow, short-term thinkers.

by Anonymousreply 806/23/2013

[quote]In other words, they judged the morality of actions based on a universal rule such as, “You should not kill.”

So how does that explain their support of the death penalty?

by Anonymousreply 906/23/2013

I wish the founding fathers had worded it that all people are created equal, and have a right to *dignity,* liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc etc.

If the word "dignity" were in there, the whacko conservatives couldn't glibly deny people the right to assisted suicide, couldn't insist that minute-old cell blastocysts have "rights" that trump those of the women whose bodies they inhabit, couldn't laud torture as justifiable, etc, and claim to be patriotic all the while.

If I could revolutionize education, I'd make it so that Empathy was integrated into classes at every level.

by Anonymousreply 1006/23/2013

I wish they would come up with a behavioral study to test this because it seems that conservatives and the religious do not do what they say, particularly in the economic world. There, the ends justifies the means seems to be the rule. If only they took a hardline moral ground when it came to profit.

by Anonymousreply 1106/24/2013

[quote]They (and I actually) believe in moral absolutes that don't change just because doing the right thing is difficult, sacrificial, or inconvenient.

Which sounds like complete nonsense. That is simply a way to avoid any critical thinking by blindly adhering to a fixed set of rules that admit of absolutely no deviations. Interestingly, they are often employed by hypocrites who can never live up to the impossible standards they set for everyone else.

And what, precisely, are these "moral absolutes" that must be obeyed no matter the situation?

by Anonymousreply 1206/24/2013

JPSP is the pre-eminent journal in this field, so all you "duh" responders need to know this: yes, maybe it seems like DUH to you, but this has been scientifically vetted in all the right ways, and is using actual science to suss out and explain the duh.

Don't be so knee-jerk ridiculous.

by Anonymousreply 1306/24/2013

[quote] And what, precisely, are these "moral absolutes" that must be obeyed no matter the situation?

Yeah, lets here those absolutes, although I suspect your answer will be sung by a choir of crickets, r12.

by Anonymousreply 1406/24/2013

Obviously I meant SPPS, which is also a top journal. (Although JPSP is probably even more prestigious).

by Anonymousreply 1506/24/2013

R13 - The authors of the study admit it is unpublished: "In a recent unpublished study I conducted with my colleague Justin Landy at Penn, we found that it is a particular sub-class of religious individuals that are strongly opposed to consequentialist thinking."

So exactly how has this been vetted in all the right ways?

R10 - you are talking about The Declaration of Independence - which has no legal authority. It doesn't matter what it says.

by Anonymousreply 1606/24/2013

John Stuart Mill quote: Not all Conservatives are stupid, but all stupid people are Conservative.

They want to (or can't help but) remain children, with a Daddy God and a book of rules to follow, and they see things in black or white and aren't capable of comprehending grey (or weighing issues, considering the consequences.) That's just too complicated.

The smart ones just see the option of using the stupid ones to get what they want (wealthy people getting laws passed to lower their taxes, exempt their capital gains, abolish unions, etc.)

by Anonymousreply 1706/24/2013

Isn't the natural extension of ths study to infer that people who focus on consequences likely to believe in situational ethics? And more crucially, doesn't that also lead to "ends justify the means" rationale?

Ethics and morality are much too complex to fiit into tiny boxes and certainly too complex to categorize people into these simple notions.

by Anonymousreply 1806/24/2013

Says who? Republicans are typically unethical cretins spewing their perceived moral garbage.

by Anonymousreply 1906/24/2013

So, in other words, highly religious and conservative people lack the capacity for independent thought.

by Anonymousreply 2006/24/2013

Interesting that it's nearly always conservatives I hear talking about punishment.

Is their morality so fluid that they don't see punishment as being aligned with consequences, or perhaps punishment is for others while consequences might apply to one's own behavior and is therefore inapplicable.

by Anonymousreply 2106/24/2013

How many conservatives suffer the consequences of their hateful behavior? Not many.

And in their reasoning, this means they're right.

by Anonymousreply 2206/24/2013

R22 On the rare occasions they do suffer the consequences, they attribute it to being bias or them being unfairly singled out. Look at what happened when Dr Laura was fired from her radio show. Regressives had a shit-fit claiming her right to free speech was being violated. Nothing could be further than the truth, but you couldn't tell them that.

by Anonymousreply 2306/24/2013

Look no further than the dimwits blaming Couric for daring to ask "What do you read?"

by Anonymousreply 2406/24/2013

[quote]And what, precisely, are these "moral absolutes" that must be obeyed no matter the situation?

R4, we are still waiting. Please, by all means, enlighten us with your list of moral absolutes that must be followed and obeyed.

by Anonymousreply 2506/24/2013

R25, are you suggesting there are no moral absolutes?

How about, "thou shalt not be a racist," for one.

Or "thou shalt not be a global warming denialist"?

Liberal shibboleths are also absolutes, you know.

by Anonymousreply 2606/24/2013

[quote]Is their morality so fluid that they don't see punishment as being aligned with consequences,

Actually, it is more that their morality is so rigid. For example the boy who shot his father because the father was sexually abusing his sister. The boy had tried to help help from everyone he could and was rejected; so, he used the only solution he could. He was sentenced to jail as if he had murdered his father in cold blood. Their reasoning is very much if you do X the punishment is Y. Regardless of the details, the punishment is Y.

I admit that I am not overly familiar with the Dr Laura incident. But I don't think conservatives are as likely to ask that someone be off the air for something he/she has said. They may defame the person like crazy in the press, but not ask for their job. When they do, it seems to be an example of the above. They are complaining of a double standard. If someone did X the punishment is Y. The problem is that they consider racist or homophobic language to be the equal to anti-religious, anti- capitalist, or anti-American language. In other words, the consider associating pedophilia with Catholic priests to be the same as associating blacks being Pimps.

by Anonymousreply 2706/25/2013

[quote] But I don't think conservatives are as likely to ask that someone be off the air for something he/she has said.

Maybe you should acquaint yourself with an origination called One Million Moms. Or look at Focus on the Family. And a third called The Catholic League.

by Anonymousreply 2806/25/2013

R27, I heard a tape of the Dr. Laura "incident." It was quite surprising. She seemed to be incapable of understanding that she could be wrong in what she was saying.

The reason I questioned the fluidity of conservatives' morality is that I've watched so many conservatives rally to the defense of the pedophile priests. When conservatives are caught doing wrong, they often act outraged that anyone would think to accuse them, as if wrongdoing is perfectly acceptable when someone like them (white, usually middle or upper middle class) commits a crime.

by Anonymousreply 2906/25/2013

R28, two of those three are quite transparent about the fact that they were created as a reaction against liberal boycotts, etc.

R29, I think what you are seeing is not fluidity, but rigidity. It is just another version of "daddy's always right". You don't talk back to daddy without consequences; therefore, you don't talk back to priests, CEOs, or any other authority figure without consequences. I bet that on some level they are actually afraid that they will be punished or suffer the consequences if ANYONE questions what they consider an authority figure.

by Anonymousreply 3006/25/2013

Ah, that makes sense, R30. Thanks.

The kid killing his father was an affront to authority, no matter what the father was doing.

by Anonymousreply 3106/25/2013

R31, exactly. Their view of the world is actually Elizabethan. They believed in something called the Great Chain of Being. Everything had its place on that chain. If anything was out of place the result was chaos, storms, and tragedy. Note in Shakespeare how often destructive weather accompanies an imbalance in the family unit: children over parents, bastard over legitimately born, women over men. At heart, the conservatives still believe this.

by Anonymousreply 3206/25/2013

Great Chain of Being. That's interesting, a philosophy that is all about maintaining power structures. Sounds like the pre-Civil War South where everyone knew his or her place and nobody dared step out of line.

by Anonymousreply 3306/25/2013

Damn R32 I know conservatives live in the past, but I didnt know they lived THAT far in the past.

by Anonymousreply 3406/25/2013

R33, It wasn't just the south. It was the north. It was England. It was Germany. It was France. It was pretty much everywhere.

by Anonymousreply 3506/25/2013

I agree, R35. I was thinking out loud when I said the South.

I read an article yesterday about women becoming Navy Seals. The next part of the process is asking male Seals what they think, not that it will affect the outcome, but because it affects how they will introduce the program. For a long time when the old power structure was being challenged, the military looked like it would never change.

by Anonymousreply 3606/25/2013

I was talking with my Republican friend last night and he went on and on about "self-reliance" as a very good, strong moral construct. A moral imperative, if you will. I agreed. Being self reliant is a great thing to strive for.

However, what he failed to admit or acknowledge or grasp, and what was so frustrating, is that it looks self reliance looks, acts, and manifests VERY differently for a rich, good looking white boy raised in the WASP world than a poor second generation Latino living in squalor in East LA. He can't grasp context, the different starting out points, the advantages and disadvantages - be it wealth, intelligence, beauty, whatever - that make self-reliance an incredibly complex construct, as a supposed moral imperative. To him if everyone enacted the tenants of self-reliance, they'd all be wealthy.

That's the problem with conservative "morality". They distort a good general rule (work hard, believe in yourself, be self reliant) and fail to see that they end up using it as a weapon against perceived enemies. And they do it without recognizing it at all (at least the benign conservatives).

by Anonymousreply 3706/25/2013

Conservative thinking will be shown to be a symptom of a viral infection.

by Anonymousreply 3806/25/2013

"[R29], I think what you are seeing is not fluidity, but rigidity. It is just another version of "daddy's always right". You don't talk back to daddy without consequences; therefore, you don't talk back to priests, CEOs, or any other authority figure without consequences. "

I'm going to repeat myself and say that conservatives believe what they were told as children, while liberals actually THINK about moral and ethical issues.

Conservative morality is very based on the fear of being punished that they learned in childhood; being punished by the parental authority figure, the law that represents that authority figure, or a wrathful God who is nastier than any legal system. That's why they want people to be punished for things that they don't like but which aren't actually illegal or wrong, like being poor.

by Anonymousreply 3906/25/2013

This is disturbing:

[quote]There was a notable exception. When it came to torture, Piazza described American conservatives as “full-blown consequentialists.” But the same could not be said of religious individuals. “In other words, political conservatives found torture acceptable when it brought about a greater good, but religious individuals found torture less acceptable even when it was a means to a greater good,” he told PsyPost. “

The article goes on to say conservative believe the person being tortured "deserves it."

by Anonymousreply 4006/25/2013

[quote]I was talking with my Republican friend last night and he went on and on about "self-reliance" as a very good, strong moral construct.

I used to have no end of fun pointing out to my father's conservative friends that hippies, with their communes, etc,were actually the poster children for their precious self-reliance. It was fun to watch their heads explode.

by Anonymousreply 4106/25/2013

Your post proves how inherently dishonest or out of touch with reality you are, R42. Everyone depends on the government for some things.

by Anonymousreply 4306/25/2013

Some of us don't have the same choices you do, genius. Tough luck--unlucky sperm?

by Anonymousreply 4406/25/2013

R42 would be the first person looting the store.

by Anonymousreply 4506/25/2013

Interesting how the sick freepers crawl from under their rocks.

by Anonymousreply 4706/25/2013

You didn't build the roads, airports, police department, courts, etc. Is it that difficult to grasp or do you jut like repeating slogans even when they are wrong?

by Anonymousreply 4806/25/2013

It's a republican trait, no values, no ethics, no sense.

by Anonymousreply 4906/25/2013

The laws they fight so hard to make don't apply to them. My freeper inlaws are using stemcells and government money to treat their daughter with CP.

Every abortion clinic worker has a story about the day that their most vociferous protester comes in for their own abortion.

My coworker who complains about moochers taking her taxes is now pregnant and signing up for every government program that exists.

Another freeper I know is disabled due to fibromyalgia and now addicted to painkillers. She can garden and refinish furniture which she loves. Sitting at a desk is apparently a problem. Unless it's the internet.

by Anonymousreply 5006/25/2013

I'm imagining the water main breaking in front of R42's house. Of course he's on the phone to the government (you know, the one he doesn't need) demanding it be repaired immediately.

by Anonymousreply 5106/25/2013

Alas. R42 just proves my point.

by Anonymousreply 5206/25/2013

[quote]The Liberals'"empathy and compassion" are heading the country into bankruptcy

And yet, nearly half our current debt was created when a conservative was president. Strange how reality works, huh?

by Anonymousreply 5406/25/2013

Actually, most of "the rich" don't bother to pay their taxes.

They don't.

Close the loopholes and confiscate their property.

by Anonymousreply 5506/25/2013

Libertarians have the mentality of "I want it all and I want it now" and "After me, the Flood."

Christian conservatives have a deux ex machina mentality, that Jesus is going to save them in the final act.

by Anonymousreply 5606/26/2013

The responses to the Supreme Court ruling shows another facet of conservative thinking. They keep whining about the "will of the people", as if we live in an absolute democracy. We have three branches of government, which are supposed to be equal. They keep thinking that a democracy, in the US sense, means absolute majority rule.

by Anonymousreply 5706/27/2013

consequences do not necessarily determine morality. sometimes doing the right thing will be tough and inconvenient, but it is still the right thing. situational ethics are not morals.

by Anonymousreply 5806/29/2013
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