Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

K-Staters research willingness to engage in minor moral and legal violations

11.01.2005


There are a lot of terrible things that people do to one another. A husband kills his pregnant wife and unborn child. A woman kills another woman she met on the Internet and kidnaps an 8-month fetus she cut from its mother’s womb.



At the same time, there are a lot of minor moral and legal violations that people engage in as well -- violations such as speeding, cheating on tests, etc. But what factors influence a person’s willingness to engage in various minor moral and legal violations? A lack of conscience? The thrill and excitement of the risk involved? A Kansas State University professor who has previously examined social-emotional behaviors in children and adults, has completed a study examining these dynamics.

Mark Barnett, a K-State professor of psychology, queried 178 K-State undergraduates on 40 different "minor moral and legal violations." Some of the violations the students were asked about on the questionnaire were illegal infractions; some were immoral but not illegal. "Some of these behaviors would get you in trouble with the law -- like speeding down the highway, and others were like cheating on an exam or cheating on a game of golf," Barnett said. "You’re not going to get arrested for the latter behaviors, but still, obviously it’s not morally acceptable to do those sorts of things."


Barnett said some of the violations on the questionnaires had a human victim; others did not. He found that the participants were more likely to engage in violations that didn’t hurt a human victim , such as taking towels from a hotel, rather than ones where there was an identifiable human victim. "You could park in a no-parking zone and there’s no clear human victim for that," Barnett said, "but you could also park in a handicapped zone and you could imagine that being harmful to someone who needs that space and has a disability."

One factor associated with the likelihood of engaging in a particular minor violation, Barnett said, was the belief that many other individuals tend to engage in the violation, such as speeding 1 to 4 miles per hour over the limit. "How common the violation was perceived to be was important; similarly, how serious a violation was perceived to be influenced their own behavior," Barnett said. "The violations they thought were not that serious were the ones they said they were more likely to engage in."

Risk taking played a role as well.

"Perhaps high risk takers aren’t focusing on getting caught, but it’s the excitement associated with taking a risk that is important," Barnett said. "For them, the concern over getting caught may not be as critical. There are a lot of things that you and I might consider doing and you and I might say ’I’m not going to do it because it’s dangerous.’ So the danger becomes important for you and me. But for people who are high risk takers, they may just go ahead and do it for the thrill or excitement; whatever motivates them. Perhaps they’re not as concerned with getting caught or the danger associated with the behavior as individuals who are less likely to take risks."

One finding surprised Barnett: participants said they were more likely to do illegal behaviors than immoral behaviors that are legal. However those illegal activities were typically ones that had a low chance of being punished, such as going a few miles per hour over the speed limit. "Driving a little over the speed limit is illegal but we inferred from the participants’ answers that they didn’t think it was likely that a police officer was going to stop them or that anybody was going to get punished for that behavior," Barnett said.

Study participants were also asked to estimate the percentage of female and male college students they believed would engage in these violations. Barnett said participants generally expected a higher percentage of males than females to engage in these behaviors. "Indeed when we looked at the gender difference, males said they were more likely than females to engage in these behaviors, especially at the higher levels of some violations," Barnett said. "At the lower levels of some violations, the males and females were pretty close in their likelihood ratings, but at riskier levels of these violations the males indicated that they were much more likely than females to engage in these behaviors."

Barnett has authored more than 60 articles for professional journals and has made more than 90 presentations at regional and national conventions. He is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Society for Research in Child Development and the Society for Research in Human Development. He and his students are currently working on a similar study involving fourth through sixth grade children.

Mark Barnett | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.k-state.edu

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>