Publication Type

Journal Article

Version

Postprint

Publication Date

3-2014

Abstract

In the research presented here, we tested the idea that a lack of material resources (e.g., low income) causes people to make harsher moral judgments because a lack of material resources is associated with a lower ability to cope with the effects of others' harmful behavior. Consistent with this idea, results from a large cross-cultural survey (Study 1) showed that both a chronic (due to low income) and a situational (due to inflation) lack of material resources were associated with harsher moral judgments. The effect of inflation was stronger for low-income individuals, whom inflation renders relatively more vulnerable. In a follow-up experiment (Study 2), we manipulated whether participants perceived themselves as lacking material resources by employing different anchors on the scale they used to report their income. The manipulation led participants in the material-resources-lacking condition to make harsher judgments of harmful, but not of nonharmful, transgressions, and this effect was explained by a sense of vulnerability. Alternative explanations were excluded. These results demonstrate a functional and contextually situated nature of moral psychology.

Keywords

material resources, moral psychology, poverty, moral transgressions, income, threat, morality, moral judgments

Discipline

Organizational Behavior and Theory

Research Areas

Organisational Behaviour and Human Resources

Publication

Psychological Science

Volume

25

Issue

3

First Page

702

Last Page

710

ISSN

0956-7976

Identifier

10.1177/0956797613514092

Publisher

Association for Psychological Science

Copyright Owner and License

Authors

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Additional URL

http://doi.org/10.1177/0956797613514092

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