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The Dark Side of Moral Conviction

The Dark Side of Moral Conviction Moral conviction forms the foundation for strong, morally vested attitudes and beliefs (i.e., “moral mandates”) that have high action potential because they are “oughts” and “shoulds.” Although moral mandates may sometimes lead people to engage in prosocial behaviors, they can also lead people to disregard procedural safeguards. This article briefly reviews research that indicates that people become very unconcerned with how moral mandates are achieved, so long as they are achieved. In short, we find that commitments to procedural safeguards that generally protect civil society become psychologically eroded when people are pursuing a morally mandated end. Understanding the “dark side” of moral conviction may provide some insight into the motivational underpinnings of engaging in extreme acts like terrorism, as well as people's willingness to forego civil liberties in their pursuit of those who do. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Analyses of Social Issues & Public Policy Wiley

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
ISSN
1529-7489
eISSN
1530-2415
DOI
10.1111/j.1530-2415.2002.00024.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Moral conviction forms the foundation for strong, morally vested attitudes and beliefs (i.e., “moral mandates”) that have high action potential because they are “oughts” and “shoulds.” Although moral mandates may sometimes lead people to engage in prosocial behaviors, they can also lead people to disregard procedural safeguards. This article briefly reviews research that indicates that people become very unconcerned with how moral mandates are achieved, so long as they are achieved. In short, we find that commitments to procedural safeguards that generally protect civil society become psychologically eroded when people are pursuing a morally mandated end. Understanding the “dark side” of moral conviction may provide some insight into the motivational underpinnings of engaging in extreme acts like terrorism, as well as people's willingness to forego civil liberties in their pursuit of those who do.

Journal

Analyses of Social Issues & Public PolicyWiley

Published: Dec 1, 2002

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