People More Likely to Act Morally Than They
THURSDAY, Feb. 24 (HealthDay News) -- People are more likely to
act morally than they would predict, a new study finds.
Researchers gave a 15-question math test to two groups of
volunteers. A $5 reward was offered for 10 or more correct
One group was told that a software problem would cause the
correct answer to appear on the computer screen if they hit the
space bar, but only they would know if they hit the space bar.
Another group was given the test without the opportunity to
A third group of volunteers was given a description of the moral
dilemma faced by the participants who had the opportunity to cheat.
Volunteers in this group did not take the test but were asked to
predict whether they would cheat if given the chance.
All participants were wired with monitors to record their heart
and breathing rates and the amount of palm sweat -- all of which
increase with heightened emotion.
The participants who were given the opportunity to cheat were
the most emotional and it appears that emotions about their moral
dilemma influenced them to refrain from cheating, said the
University of Toronto Scarborough researchers.
The volunteers asked only to predict their actions were calmer,
and predicted they would cheat more than those who had the
opportunity to cheat actually did, the study found. The
participants who took the test with no opportunity to cheat were
calm as well.
The study appears in the journal
Some previous studies have found just the opposite -- that
people do the right thing less often than they predict, researchers
"This time, we got a rosy picture of human nature," study co-author Michael Inzlicht, an associate professor of psychology, said in a journal news release. "But the essential finding is that emotions are what drive you to do the right thing or the wrong thing."
Visit the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Education
for more on contemporary
research on morality.
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