A Research on The Propensity of People to Exhibit an Aversion to Harm Essay

A Research on The Propensity of People to Exhibit an Aversion to Harm Essay

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Inferring from the trolley car dilemma and the footbridge dilemma, we can observe an ingrained propensity for people to exhibit an aversion to harm. People generally say they are unwilling to harm others. However, countless acts of violence in history have shown us that there is a disparity between what we say, and what we actually do. This essay will summarise and discuss the implications of a study by FeldmanHall and his colleagues (2012) regarding this issue. The questions this study seeks to address are how, and why behaviours following hypothetical moral scenarios differ from that of real moral scenarios.
Study 1a involved conducting a survey asking 53 participants if they thought future participants would be more or less likely to avoid harming another for significant personal gain (e.g. Monetary incentives) if the stakes were real compared to hypothetical. A significant 74% of participants believed aversion to harm would exert a greater influence in the real condition.
Study 1b examined if the above views would be carried out in experimental conditions. Contrary to the results of Study 1a, the experimenters hypothesised that when motivational forces are real, the incentive for self-gain would become more compelling than aversion to harm. To test the hypothesis, two experimental conditions were formulated.
In the Real PvG condition, participants went through a Pain vs Gain (PvG) task. In this task, participants were first given $20. Participants went through 20 trials, in which they could pay up to $1 per trial to reduce the intensity of shocks ($0 for full shock, $1 for no shock) delivered to a receiver, whom they believed to be another participant, but was actually a confederate. The shocks were faked, but many measur...


... middle of paper ...


...study extremely important.



Works Cited

FeldmanHall, O., Mobbs, D., Evans, D., Hiscox, L., Navrady, L., & Dalgleish, T. (2012). What we say and what we do: the relationship between real and hypothetical moral choices.Cognition, 123(3), 434-441.

FeldmanHall, O., Dalgleish, T., Thompson, R., Evans, D., Schweizer, S., & Mobbs, D. (2012). Differential neural circuitry and self-interest in real vs hypothetical moral decisions. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 7(7), 743-751.


Pastötter, B., Gleixner, S., Neuhauser, T., & Bäuml, K. H. T. (2013). To push or not to push? Affective influences on moral judgment depend on decision frame. Cognition, 126(3), 373-377.

Patil, I., Cogoni, C., Zangrando, N., Chittaro, L., & Silani, G. (2014). Affective basis of judgment-behavior discrepancy in virtual experiences of moral dilemmas. Social neuroscience,9(1), 94-107.

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