Bocian, K., Baryla, W., Kulesza, W., Schnall, S., Wojciszke, B. (2018). The mere liking effect: Attitudinal influences on attributions of moral character. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 79, 9-20. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2018.06.007
People believe that their moral judgments are well-justified and as objective as scientific facts. Still, dual-process models of judgment provide strong theoretical reasons to expect that in reality moral judgments are substantially influenced by highly subjective factors such as attitudes. In four experiments (N=645) we provide evidence that similarity-dissimilarity of beliefs, mere exposure, and facial mimicry influence judgments of moral character measured in various ways. These influences are mediated by changes in liking of the judged persons, suggesting that attitudinal influences lay at the core of moral character perceptions. Changes in mood do not play such a role. This is the first line of studies showing that attitudes influence moral judgments in addition to frequently studied discrete emotions. It is also the first research evidencing the affective influences on judgments of moral character.
Wojciszke, B., Bocian, K. (2018). Bad Methods Drive out Good: The Curse of Imagination in Social Psychology Research. Social Psychological Bulletin, 13(2), Article e26062.
We agree with Doliński (2018, this issue) that behavior is disappearing as an object of study of contemporary social psychology and it has been increasingly replaced by verbal declarations of imagined behaviors, which are analyzed as dependent variables. We read this as a case of a methodological
version of Gresham’s law: “bad methods drive out good”. We notice a complementary
trend on the side of manipulations of independent variables. Instead of manipulating real situations,
researchers frequently instruct their participants to imagine these situations. In effect,
social psychology drifts to studying imaginary behaviors in imagined situations and this poses a
serious threat for the validity of our findings. We present one study comparing responses to imagined
and actually experienced situations (concerning moral judgment and trust) and find that
these two types of situation produce divergent responses. We conclude that imagined situations
cannot be a source of knowledge about responses in situations that people really experience.
Bocian, K., Białobrzeska, O., Parzuchowski, M. (2017). Assessing size and subjective value of objects with diminutive names. Polish Psychological Bulletin, Volume 48, Issue 3, 423–429.
Language (e.g., structure, morphology, and wording) can direct our attention toward the specific properties of an object, in turn influencing the mental representation of that same object. In this paper, we examined this idea by focusing on a particular linguistic form of diminution used in many languages (e.g., in Polish, Spanish, and Portuguese) to refer to an object as being “smaller.” Interestingly, although objects are usually considered “better” when they are bigger in size, objects described with linguistic diminution can also refer to those that are emotionally positive. Across three experiments conducted in Polish, we examined this lexical ambiguity in terms of mood (Experiment 1), subjective quality and monetary value (Experiment 2), and choice selection (Experiment 3). Overall, we found that people evaluate objects differently depending on the linguistic form (i.e., with or without diminution) with which they are described, and that it was related to the perceptual representation of these objects, and not their affective status. Objects described with diminution are evaluated as less satisfying and of lesser value and this effect is attributed to the way participants represent the objects (i.e., encoded and memorized). The generalizability of these effects is discussed.
Parzuchowski, M., Bocian, K., Pascal, G. (2016). Sizing Up Objects: The Effect of Diminutive Forms on Positive Mood, Value, and Size Judgments. Front. Psychol. 7:1452. [PDF]
Numerous studies show that language (in its grammatical forms or morphology) can influence both perceptual judgments, as well as the mental categorization of objects in memory. Previous research showed that using diminutive names of objects resulted in being less satisfied with owning said objects and lowering their perceived value. In the present studies, to explore this phenomenon, we decided to investigate whether the influence of a diminutive on the reduction in the subjective value of an object is determined by the perceived size of the object, in accordance with the „bigger is better” heuristic. In Study 1 participants estimated a banknote to be smaller when it was presented with a diminutive label “banknocik” (banknote with diminutive) than “banknot” (banknote). However, this was not related to the perceived subjective value of the banknote. In Study 2 participants declared that they could buy less with a coin labeled as “pieniążek” (coin with diminutive) than “pieniądz” (coin), but the effect was not linked to the perceived size of the coins. In Study 3 a candy bar labeled as “batonik” (candy bar with diminutive) was evaluated worse than the same product labeled “baton” (candy bar), however, once again this was not related to the evaluation of its size (weight). Thus, we show that the effect of diminutives on the reduction in the subjective value of an object is independent of the evaluation of the size of the object and we consider other explanations for the occurrence of this phenomenon.
Bocian, K., Baryla, W., Wojciszke, B. (2016). When Dishonesty Leads to Trust: Moral Judgments Biased by Self-interest are Truly Believed. Polish Psychological Bulletin, Volume 47, Issue 3, Pages 366–372. [PDF]
Research has shown that cheating is perceived as immoral when it serves the cheater’s interests, though it can be seen as moral when it serves the interests of the perceiver. However, are such biased moral judgments real, or are they merely lip service? To answer the question of whether biased moral judgments actually inform behavior, the authors asked participants to observe a confederate who either cheated for money or did not cheat, which benefited either the confederate alone or both the confederate and the participating observer. Then, participants evaluated the confederate and, finally, played a one shot trust game with her. Cheating influenced moral judgments and decreased behavioral trust, but this only occurred when self-interest was not involved. When self-interest was involved, participants showed no significant differences in trust levels, independent of whether the confederate had cheated or not. Implications for the dual process theory in moral psychology are discussed.
Parzuchowski, M., Bocian, K., Wojciszke, B. (2016). From Extreme to Mundane: Modern Psychology of Moral Judgments. Psychologia Społeczna, 11(39), 388-298.
The current paper reviews the modern literature on psychology of moral judgments. In the past moral judgments have been studied using experiments that presented participants with vignettes of moral dillemmas that are both extreme and very rare. In this paper we document the current state of knowledge in this field and we describe the modern paradgim shift. Our review paper covers three main points: 1) it sums up the current state of the moral psychology; 2) reviews the objections against the abstractness and extremity of moral dilemmas; 3) reviews the difference between the Jonathan Haidt’s moral foundations theory which was based on extreme cases of dillemas and Kurt Gray and Daniel Wegner’s dyadic morality theory which was formulated using more mundane moral situations.
Wojciszke, B., Parzuchowski, M., Bocian, K. (2015). Moral Judgments and Impressions. Current Opinion in Psychology, 6:50-54. [PDF]
Moral psychology is booming and recent years brought a large body of research on moral judgments and impressions. We review up to date results about this important constituent of human morality focusing mainly on: (1) how deontology vs. utilitarianism drives moral judgments, (2) what is the role of intuition and deliberation in moral judgments, (3) how and why morality influences impressions of persons, and (4) how people perceive moral character. We also highlight some limitations of previous research and show how these limitations are being overcome recently.t goes here
Białobrzeska, O., Bocian, K., Parzuchowski, M., Frankowska, N., Wojciszke, B. (2015). It’s not fair, I don’t gain from it: Engaging self-interest distorts the assessment of justice adjustment. Psychologia Społeczna, 2 (33) 149–162. [in Polish] [PDF]
Are people able to objectively evaluate fairness of legal acts? Such regulations often encourage or threaten the interests of their own, that may run the risk of loosing objectivity. Maybe howling injustice is evaluated positively if it is in favour of person’s interest. In present article we present three experiments, that aim to verify the hypothesis which states that engagement of ones interest distorts evaluation of legal act’s fairness. Consequently, acts serving their interest are regarded as more just. In Experiment 1 (N = 34) doctoral students considered controversial scholarship regulations to be more just as far as it was in favour of their own interest. In Experiment 2 (N = 97) men evaluated unequal treatment of women in job environment as just when it favoured their own sex. In Experiment 3 (N = 80) go-cart racetrack users evaluated racing rules as more just when they benefited from them, but not when they were beneficial to others. We discuss observed effects in reference to automatic egocentrism conception (Epley & Caruso, 2004).
Wojciszke, B., Bocian, K., Parzuchowski, M., Szymków, A. (2014). On the inescapability of bias in moral judgments. Nauka, 3, 45-62. [in Polish] [PDF]
Basing on the popular distinction between controlled and automatic psychological processes we present results of the debate between rationalistic versus intuitionistic accounts of moral judgments. These judgments are a joint product of automatic and controlled processes and because the former are fast and continuous, they play a greater role than the latter which are slower and operate only in some conditions. We present results of two lines of our research supporting this conclusion. The first line showed that moral judgments of others’ behavior are strongly biased by the observer’s self-interests. The second line showed that performing a honesty- associated gesture (hand-over-heart) increases honesty perceived in persons who perform the gesture and increases the actual honesty in the performers’ behavior. Both these influences result from the operation of automatic processes (which base on associations and emotions) and bias moral judgment. The bias is unconscious and inescapable unless the controlled processes of information processing are activated.
Bocian, K., & Wojciszke, B. (2014). Self-Interest Bias in Moral Judgments of Others’ Actions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 40(7), 898– 909. [PDF]
The automatic and affective nature of moral judgments leads to the expectation that these judgments are biased by the observer’s own interests. Participants of three experiments observed other persons’ counter-normative behavior (breaking a rule or cheating for gain) which was judged as immoral. However, this judgment became much more lenient, when observers themselves gained from the observed behavior. All three studies showed that the influence of self-interest on moral judgments was completely mediated by the observer’s increased liking for the perpetrator of immoral acts, but not by changes in mood. When participants were induced to dislike the perpetrator (in a moderation-of-process design) the self-interest bias disappeared. Implications for the intuitionist approach to moral judgment were discussed.
Klein, R. A., Ratliff, K. A., Vianello, M., Adams, R. B., Jr., Bahník, Š., Bernstein, M. J., Bocian, K., Brandt, M. J., Brooks, B., Brumbaugh, C. C., Cemalcilar, Z., Chandler, J., Cheong, W., Davis, W. E., Devos, T., Eisner, M., Frankowska, N., Furrow, D., Galliani, E. M., Hasselman, F., Hicks, J. A., Hovermale, J. F., Hunt, S. J., Huntsinger, J. R., IJzerman, H., John, M., Joy-Gaba, J. A., Kappes, H. B., Krueger, L. E., Kurtz, J., Levitan, C. A., Mallett, R., Morris, W. L., Nelson, A. J., Nier, J. A., Packard, G., Pilati, R., Rutchick, A. M., Schmidt, K., Skorinko, J. L., Smith, R., Steiner, T. G., Storbeck, J., Van Swol, L. M., Thompson, D., van’t Veer, A., Vaughn, L. A., Vranka, M., Wichman, A., Woodzicka, J. A., & Nosek, B. A. (2014). Investigating variation in replicability: A “many labs” replication project. Social Psychology, 45, 142-152. doi: 10.1027/1864-9335/a000178.
Although replication is a central tenet of science, direct replications are rare in psychology. This research tested variation in the replicability of thirteen classic and contemporary effects across 36 independent samples totaling 6,344 participants. In the aggregate, ten effects replicated consistently. One effect – imagined contact reducing prejudice – showed weak support for replicability. And two effects – flag priming influencing conservatism and currency priming influencing system justification – did not replicate. We compared whether the conditions such as lab versus online or U.S. versus international sample predicted effect magnitudes. By and large they did not. The results of this small sample of effects suggest that replicability is more dependent on the effect itself than on the sample and setting used to investigate the effect.
Bocian, K., Wojciszke, B. (2014). Unawareness of Self-interest Bias in Moral Judgments of Others’ Behavior. Polish Psychological Bulletin, Volume 45, Issue 4, Pages 411–417. [PDF]
Previous studies (Bocian& Wojciszke, 2013) showed that self-interest biases moral perception of others’ unethical actions. Moreover, affective changes in attitudinal responses towards the perpetrator of an immoral act drives the bias. In the present studies, we attempted to answer the question whether people are aware of the self-interest bias in their judgments of others’ behavior. We conducted two experiments showing that moral judgments of verbally described and imagined actions were dominated by norms rather than self-interest (Study 1) and that people were not aware that self-interest distorted their moral judgment (Study 2). The unawareness of the self-interest bias among the participants was attributable to omission of their own emotional responses when forecasting their moral judgments. We discuss the importance of emotions presence in studies on moral judgments as well as contribution of the present research to the intuitionist approach to moral judgment.
Parzuchowski, M., Bocian, K., Baryła, W. (2012). Activation of a stereotype of an immoral person facilitates the cleanliness motive. Psychologia Społeczna, 7 (23), 297–306. [in Polish]
Bodily purity and physical cleanliness is closely related to a large variety of moral judgments. Moral transgressions are often perceived to be unclean thus elicit the desire to cleanse. We propose, that desire to cleanse can be induced by thinking about immoral behaviors of others, which leads to i) higher preference for cleansing products; ii) behavioral action of cleaning to protect possible contamination. In two experiments participants were primed with an immoral target person (a pedophile) or a control moral target (an altruist, a nun, or a secretary). In each case, the results showed that immoral behaviors of other people can increase the desire to cleanse. In Experiment 1, participants that imagined a pedophile showed higher preference for cleansing products, than participants in the control groups. In Experiment 2, students who filled a questionnaire about personality traits of a stereotypical pedophile visited Universitys lavatories twice as often as participants in a control group. Taken together, these data indicate that merely thinking about foul behaviors of others can activate a motive for cleanliness.