Stumbling Blocks On The Path Of Righteousness 2009: Speak Themselves

Stumbling Blocks on the Path of Righteousness

They speak only for themselves, of course.
As for others, well, turn on the news: shady bankers, savage interrogators and deadbeats are everywhere. “I remember thinking that I was just better than other people, that I would never compromise my principles,” said Jordan LaBouff, 25, a graduate student in Texas, recalling a public standoff that he and other students had with university administrators several years ago. In recent years, social have begun to study what they call the holier-than-thou effect. They have long known that people tend to be overly optimistic about their own abilities and fortunes &151 to overestimate their standing in class, their discipline, their sincerity. “The message in this work is not that you should rid yourself of moral indignation sometimes that’s appropriate,” said David Dunning, a social psychologist at in Ithaca, N.Y. “But the point is that many types of behavior are driven far more by the situation than by the force of personality. What someone else did in that situation is a very strong warning about what you yourself would do.” One way to test whether people live up to their virtuous self-image is to set them up. , for example, 251 Cornell students predicted how likely they would be to buy a daffodil at Daffodil Days, a four-day campus event to benefit the American Cancer Society. Sure enough, 83 percent predicted that they would buy at least one flower but that just 56 percent of their peers would. “The problem with these holier-than-thou assessments is not only that we overestimate how we would have behaved,” Dr. Epley said. “It’s also that we blame every crisis or scandal on failure of character &151 you know, if we just fire all the immoral Wall Street bankers and replace them with moral ones, we’ll solve the problem.”
In experiments as in life, the holier-than-thou effect diminishes quickly when people have actually had the experience they are judging: dubious accounting practices will appear less shady to the person who has had to put a good face on a failing company. And the effect is apparently less pronounced in cultures that emphasize interdependence over individual achievement, like China and Spain.

Event Date and Time:
Starts at: