By Tamar Kreps and Knight Way
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
November 2014 vol. 40 no. 11 1529-1542
When a speaker presents an opinion, an important factor in audiences’ reactions is whether the speaker seems to be basing his or her decision on ethical (as opposed to more pragmatic) concerns. We argue that, despite a consequentialist philosophical tradition that views utilitarian consequences as the basis for moral reasoning, lay perceivers think that speakers using arguments based on consequences do not construe the issue as a moral one. Five experiments show that, for both political views (including real State of the Union quotations) and organizational policies, consequentialist views are seen to express less moralization than deontological views, and even sometimes than views presented with no explicit justification. We also demonstrate that perceived moralization in turn affects speakers’ perceived commitment to the issue and authenticity. These findings shed light on lay conceptions of morality and have practical implications for people considering how to express moral opinions publicly.
The entire article is here.