In yet another confounding of the same sitatuion we see played out over and over in thousands of published studies, Seed gives us a report on how moral decisions are contextual.
“No, the results did not surprise us,” says Lindenberg. “What surprised us was the size of the effect.”
This is not unlike the findings from last week’s feature on social conformity we found on CNN. What’s different is the more sound conclusions from these researchers.
It’s not that good people turned bad, either. One goal simply surpassed another in importance. In the case of the mailbox, the desire for cash superceded the desire to behave appropriately, because others already hadn’t. “People are not bad. People are just subject to social influence,” Lindenberg says. An effective tip for crime prevention is to be aware of norm violations on all fronts. After all, says Lindenberg, “Even old grandmothers would do this.”
Values are contingent and contextual. Ain’t no good and evil, bad and good. Only situations and consequences.