Laura Niemi, Alek Chakroff, and Liane Young
The Science of Us
Originally published April 7, 2017
Here is an excerpt:
Taken together, the results suggest that unethical behavior becomes easier when we perceive our own actions in indirect terms, which makes things that we would otherwise balk at seem a bit more palatable. In other words, deploying indirect speech doesn’t just help us evade blame from others — it also helps us to convince ourselves that unethical acts aren’t so bad after all.
That’s not to say that this is a conscious process. A speaker who shrouds his harmful intentions in indirect speech may understand that this will help him hold on to his standing in the public eye, or maintain his reputation among those closest to him — a useful tactic when those intentions are likely to be condemned or fall outside the bounds of socially acceptable behavior. But that same speaker may be unaware of just how much their indirect speech is easing their own psyche, too.
The article is here.