Can Affect Disengagement Produce Moral Standard Violation
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Jackson 2015 Self and Identity.pdf
Eckstein Jackson, Lydia
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EmbargoThis version of the article is available for viewing to the public after October 30, 2020.
SubjectAffect Disengagement; Misattribution of Emotion; Moral Disengagement; Moral Standard Violation; Somatic-Marker Hypothesis
Bandura has suggested that people can escape the self-regulatory power of internalized moral standards by disengaging the standards, allowing violation. We consider the possibility that disengaging the emotional warning signs of impending self-censure may be sufficient to permit violation. To test this idea, we led some research participants to misattribute to a pill (actually a placebo) any feelings of tension and anxiety evoked by the prospect of violating their standards of fairness. As predicted, participants in the misattribution condition were more likely to self-favor than those in a no-misattribution condition. This effect was mediated by the amount of tension and anxiety attributed to the pill. The role that affect disengagement may play in moral decisions outside the laboratory is discussed.