Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Some Adults Believe Illness Can Be "Payback" For Bad Behavior

Date:
August 31, 1999
Source:
Ohio State University
Summary:
A new study suggests that up to 44 percent of adults believe that, in some cases, people may get a serious illness because they deserve it for bad behavior.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A new study suggests that up to 44 percent of adults believe that, in some cases, people may get a serious illness because they deserve it for bad behavior.

These results provide evidence that, while adults may learn the principles of science in school, they don't always apply these principles in all situations, according to researchers at Ohio State University.

"Even adults abandon scientific reasoning under certain circumstances," said Lakshmi Raman, co-author of the study and a doctoral student in psychology at Ohio State.

Raman conducted the study with Gerald Winer, a professor of psychology at Ohio State. They presented their results Aug. 21 in Boston at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.

In the study, 239 college students were presented with a vignette about a person contracting a mysterious, serious and deadly illness. The ill person was described as having lied, cheated and done other bad things. In the vignette, the main character, talking about the person who got sick, said "I believe that serious illnesses happen at least slightly more often to people who deserve them." A minor character in the vignette then agreed or disagreed with this statement, depending on which experimental group they were in.

Participants in the study were then asked if they agreed that a person could become ill because he or she was bad. This theory that bad behavior could lead to illness is known as "immanent justice." Depending on how the vignette was presented, between 19 and 44 percent of participants agreed with the idea of immanent justice. "We found adults are often a lot less sophisticated in their reasoning than we would imagine," Winer said.

The study also revealed the power of language in influencing beliefs. Study participants were most likely to agree with immanent justice reasoning (44 percent) when a character in the vignette, talking about the sick person, repeated the metaphor "what goes around comes around." Raman said this finding shows "language has a powerful role in our cognitive processes."

Participants were least likely to agree with immanent justice thinking (19 percent) when the vignette contained no metaphor and when the minor character simply agreed or disagreed with the main character about immanent justice, without repeating a statement linking bad behavior and illness.

The study found participants were not swayed one way or the other by whether the minor character agreed or disagreed with the main character's belief in immanent justice.

The results don't mean that adults are always irrational, Raman said. "We're not saying that adults lack a biological understanding of the causes of illness," she said. "But they may fall back on unscientific reasoning when rational explanations aren't readily available. In this case, we described the illness as mysterious and deadly, so some participants may look for an unscientific explanation for the illness."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Ohio State University. "Some Adults Believe Illness Can Be "Payback" For Bad Behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 August 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990831075627.htm>.
Ohio State University. (1999, August 31). Some Adults Believe Illness Can Be "Payback" For Bad Behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990831075627.htm
Ohio State University. "Some Adults Believe Illness Can Be "Payback" For Bad Behavior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/08/990831075627.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins