We Tend To See Acts We Disapprove Of As Deliberate — A Bias That Helps Explain Why Conservatives Believe In Free Will More Than Liberals


One of the most important and durable findings in moral and political psychology is that there is a tail-wags-the-dog aspect to human morality. Most of us like to think we have carefully thought-through, coherent moral systems that guide our behaviour and judgements. In reality our behaviour and judgements often stem from gut-level impulses, and only after the fact do we build elaborate moral rationales to justify what we believe and do.

A new paper examines this issue through a fascinating lens: free will. Or, more specifically, via people’s judgments about how much free will others had when committing various transgressions. The team ran 14 studies geared at evaluating the possibility that at least some of the time the moral tail wags the dog: first people decide whether someone is blameworthy, and then judge how much free will they have, in a way that allows them to justify blaming those they want to blame and excusing those they want to excuse. Continue reading →

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