Seeing good people do bad things makes the world feel like a more confusing place

Have you ever believed someone to be decent — but then they did something morally bad, which turned that belief on its head? It happens more often than we might think. And, according to new work, the consequences are far-reaching.

In two initial studies, online participants who reported having had this type of experience gave details about the event and the perpetrator, before answering a series of questions about how they felt before, during and after it happened. These questions probed their perceptions of the perpetrator’s character, their general beliefs about the world and other people, and confidence in their ability to judge character. The results suggest that the experience of a “good” person doing something immoral is so unsettling, it makes us doubt our ability to judge character and also makes the world feel like a more confusing place. Continue reading →

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