Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Moral Judgment Falters As Time Crunch Sets In

Date:
May 14, 2009
Source:
The Swedish Research Council
Summary:
When it comes to the crunch, we are not as moral as we like to think. The closer in time an event gets, the more our moral judgment falters.

When it comes to the crunch, we are not as moral as we like to think. The closer in time an event gets, the more our moral judgment falters.

The finding was recently shown by Jens Agerström in a dissertation in psychology at Lund University in Sweden.

Jens Agerström arranged to have nearly 1,000 individuals confront various scenarios where they were to make moral judgments. The scenarios were about everything from separating trash and donating blood to helping a good friend move on the sunniest day of summer. For half of the people in the experiment the scenario was to take place in the near future, while the other half were told to imagine that the event was between 10 and 30 years in the future.

“It turned out that the thought that we might act selfishly in the distant future prompted more feelings of guilt than if we were to act selfishly next week,” says Jens Agerström.

The dissertation also showed that we are quicker to condemn the immoral acts of others if they are remote in time. For instance, it is regarded as more immoral to commit an environmental crime in ten years than next week. Since the temporal distance is assumed to have a similar effect backward in time, this can entail several consequences in practice, according to Jens Agerström, who mentions the system of justice as an example:

“Considering that crimes that are remote in time risk being judged more severely, it should be in the best interest of a criminal to be convicted as soon as possible.”

Aid organizations should also be able to benefit from his findings, since people are more likely to donate money if they do not have to do it right now:

“People soliciting contributions should ask donors if they can deduct money from their accounts automatically, starting in six months,” says Jens Agerström.

The fact that we give greater weight to moral values further away in time has to do with how abstract we are in our thinking.  When we think of temporally distant events, we think more abstractly, which makes us focus on superordinate aspects and the main purport of the event. But if we think of events that are close to us in time, we think more concretely, which means that subordinate, peripheral aspects take on more importance. For example, if we imagine that we will be asked to donate blood in the future, what dominates is the superordinate moral value of helping other people, but if the time perspective is telescoped, concrete subordinate selfish motives take over, such as the fact that it will be unpleasant to be stuck by a needle.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Swedish Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The Swedish Research Council. "Moral Judgment Falters As Time Crunch Sets In." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511091909.htm>.
The Swedish Research Council. (2009, May 14). Moral Judgment Falters As Time Crunch Sets In. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511091909.htm
The Swedish Research Council. "Moral Judgment Falters As Time Crunch Sets In." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511091909.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) — Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) — A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) — Researchers found an improvement in memory and learning function in subjects who received electric pulses to their brains. Video provided by Newsy
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