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 The transparent soccer player
05.06.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Illinois researchers researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected
21.02.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>