Wednesday, February 28, 2018

No Evidence for Unethical Amnesia for Imagined Actions: A Failed Replication and Extension

Stanley, Matthew, Brenda W Yang, and Felipe De Brigard 2018. “No Evidence for Unethical Amnesia for Imagined Actions: A Failed Replication and Extension”. PsyArXiv. March 1.

Abstract: In a recent paper, Kouchaki and Gino (2016) suggest that memory for unethical actions is impaired, regardless of whether such actions are real or imagined. However, as we argue in the current paper, their claim that people develop “unethical amnesia” confuses two distinct and dissociable memory deficits: one affecting the phenomenology of remembering and another affecting memory accuracy. To further investigate whether unethical amnesia affects memory accuracy, we conducted three studies exploring unethical amnesia for imagined ethical violations. The first study (N = 228) attempts to directly replicate the only study from Kouchaki and Gino (2016) that includes a measure of memory accuracy. The second study (N = 232) attempts again to replicate these accuracy effects from Kouchaki and Gino (2016), while including several additional variables meant to potentially help in finding the effect. The third study (N = 228) is an attempted conceptual replication using the same paradigm as Kouchaki and Gino (2016), but with a new vignette describing a different moral violation. We did not find an unethical amnesia effect involving memory accuracy in any of our three studies. These results cast doubt upon the claim that memory accuracy is impaired for imagined unethical actions. Suggestions for further ways to study memory for moral and immoral actions are discussed.

Self-Presentation Concerns of Appearing Overly Moral

Good, but Not a Goody Two-Shoes: Self-Presentation Concerns of Appearing Overly Moral. Colleen M. Cowgill. Thesis presented to the College of Arts and Sciences of Ohio University, August 2017.

People are generally motivated to appear moral to others in order to gain trust and be liked. However, there may be conditions under which people may be motivated to appear less moral to others in order to be liked. Given previous research that people often tend to derogate and dislike "do-gooders" and "moral rebels," we hypothesized that people will be motivated to downplay their level of morality in interpersonal interactions after privately receiving feedback that they are far more moral than their peers. Furthermore, we predicted these effects would occur in the realm of morality, but not the realm of intelligence. Hypotheses were partially supported by the results of four studies. Although studies provided evidence that people prefer to be seen as intellectually superior to their peers rather than morally superior on affective measures, other studies provided no behavioral evidence that fear of being seen as a "goody-two-shoes" leads people to downplay their moral behavior.

Keywords: morality; self-presentation; overly moral; optimal distinctiveness

A recent study showed that participants derogated "moral rebels" who refused to participate in a racist task that the participants themselves agreed to take part in (Monin, Sawyer, Marquez, 2008). This effect was driven by the imagined or implicit reproach of the "moral rebels" against the complicit participants. In another study, participants who were asked to freely associate words with a target group (vegetarians) selected more words with negative connotations if they expected that target group to identify themselves as morally superior to the participants, who were meat-eaters (Minson &Monin, 2012).

Other research has shown that this phenomenon of derogating potentially morally superior others even appears in young children. Although children rated their peers as more likable if they were generous they liked generous children significantly less if those children were more generous than themselves - presumably because those children represented a threatening upward social comparison (Tasim, Dominquez, & Winn, 2015). These do-gooder derogation effects highlight an important potential drawback to being identified as "holier than thou." People tend not to like those they perceive as morally superior to themselves, or those they imagine as deeming themselves morally superior. Additionally, people in danger of being perceived as “holier than thou” may even face social penalties in the form of antisocial punishment.