A Model of Moral Emotional Reactions to Injustice: Implications for Psychological Well-being and Prosocial Action

A Model of Moral Emotional Reactions to Injustice: Implications for Psychological Well-being and Prosocial Action

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Two studies tested a model of moral emotional reactions to injustice. Three types of focus of attention (self, victim, perpetrator) were examined as elicitors of guilt, empathy, and moral outrage, respectively. These emotions were posited to give rise to support for distinct forms of prosocial action (e.g., humanitarian and preventative action) and to have distinct implications for observers' psychological well-being (i.e., state anxiety and state self-esteem). Results across both studies indicated weak support for the role of focus of attention in eliciting distinct moral emotions. In Study 1, participants' moral emotional reactions to a written scenario about the working poor were shown to predict their support for different types of prosocial action and to have unique patterns of association with psychological well-being, supporting several hypothesized relationships. Among these were positive associations between guilt and reparative action, between empathy and preventative action, and between moral outrage and both preventative action and retributive action. Unexpected relationships included a positive association between guilt and humanitarian action, a positive relationship between empathy and retributive action, and positive associations between moral outrage and both humanitarian action and reparative action. As hypothesized, participants who felt guilt reported lower state self-esteem prior to, but not after, endorsement of prosocial action. Interestingly, participants feeling moral outrage (but not guilt, as hypothesized) reported higher state anxiety both before and after endorsement of prosocial action. Study 2 was a laboratory study that tested the effects of focus of attention on moral emotions and in turn the effects of moral emotions on support for prosocial action. Study 2 did not produce support for these relationships; the focus of attention manipulation was unsuccessful. Although Study 2 participants perceived injustice in the experimental situation, this perception did not result in moral emotional reactions. Nevertheless, some of the overall results suggest that distinguishing among different types of moral emotional reactions to injustice may be important in predicting what kind of prosocial actions people will support. Moreover, observers' psychological well-being may be imparted in different ways when people experience different emotional reactions to injustice.... Psychology, highest honors B.A., Political Science Graduated with University Distinction University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, North Carolina 2001-2002 Political Psychology Fellowship University of California, Los Angeles 2003 M.A., anbsp;...

Title:A Model of Moral Emotional Reactions to Injustice: Implications for Psychological Well-being and Prosocial Action
Author: Sabrina Joy Pagano
Publisher:ProQuest - 2007

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