The present studies investigate how the intentions of third parties influence judgments of moral responsibility for other agents who commit immoral acts. Using cases in which an agent acts under some situational constraint brought about by a third party, we ask whether the agent is blamed less for the immoral act when the third party intended for that act to occur. Study 1 demonstrates that third-party intentions do influence judgments of blame. Study 2 finds that third-party intentions only influence moral (...) judgments when the agent's actions precisely match the third party's intention. Study 3 shows that this effect arises from changes in participants' causal perception that the third party was controlling the agent. Studies 4 and 5, respectively, show that the effect cannot be explained by changes in the distribution of blame or perceived differences in situational constraint faced by the agent. (shrink)
Adults apply ownership not only to objects but also to ideas. But do people come to apply principles of ownership to ideas because of being taught about intellectual property and copyrights? Here, we investigate whether children apply rules from physical property ownership to ideas. Studies 1a and 1b show that children (6–8 years old) determine ownership of both objects and ideas based on who first establishes possession of the object or idea. Study 2 shows that children use another principle of (...) object ownership, control of permission—an ability to restrict others’ access to the entity in question—to determine idea ownership. In Study 3, we replicate these findings with different idea types. In Study 4, we determine that children will not apply ownership to every entity, demonstrating that they do not apply ownership to a common word. Taken together, these results suggest that, like adults, children as young as 6 years old apply rules from ownership not only to objects but to ideas as well. (shrink)
Across a variety of situations, people strongly condemn plagiarizers who steal credit for ideas, even when the theft in question does not appear to harm anyone. Why would people react negatively to relatively harmless acts of plagiarism? In six experiments, we predict and find that these negative reactions are driven by people's aversion toward agents who attempt to falsely improve their reputations. In Studies 1–3, participants condemn plagiarism cases that they agree are harmless. This effect is mediated by the extent (...) to which participants perceive the plagiarizer to have falsely benefitted from plagiarizing. In Studies 4–5, we demonstrate that this effect is not explained solely by participants’ negative response to lies or violations of permission. In Study 6, participants condemn a plagiarism case in which the idea's original author actually benefits, providing the strongest evidence that people condemn plagiarism for reasons beyond perceived harm. We discuss how this work connects to broader questions of intellectual property and impression management. (shrink)
If you are kind to me, I am likely to reciprocate and doing so feels fair. Many theories of social exchange assume that such reciprocity and fairness are well aligned with one another. We argue that this correspondence between reciprocity and fairness is restricted to interpersonal dyads and does not govern more complex multilateral interactions. When multiple people are involved, reciprocity leads to partiality, which may be seen as unfair by outsiders. We report seven studies, conducted with people from the (...) United States, in which participants were asked to evaluate situations involving resource distribution in contexts such as economic games, government, and the workplace. Specifically, we find that equal resource distribution in multilateral interactions is seen as more fair than engaging in reciprocity. We also find that negative reciprocity is seen as more fair than positive reciprocity in these multilateral situations because positive reciprocity is perceived as based in favoritism. We rule out alternative explanations and demonstrate that there are contexts where favoritism is not viewed as unfair. These findings are important for theories of fairness and reciprocity as they demonstrate the central role of perceived partiality in the evaluation of multi‐party resource allocation. (shrink)
The target article convincingly argues that mutualistic cooperation is supported by partner choice. However, we will suggest that mutualistic cooperation is not the basis of fairness; instead, fairness is based on impartiality. In support of this view, we show that adults are willing to destroy others' resources to avoid inequality, a result predicted by impartiality but not by mutualistic cooperation.
Strong reciprocity is not the only account that can explain costly punishment in the lab; it can also be explained by reputation-based accounts. We discuss these two accounts and suggest what kinds of evidence would support the two different alternatives. We conclude that the current evidence favors a reputation-based account of costly punishment.
Satisfying one's obligations is an important part of being human. However, people's obligations can often prescribe contradictory behaviors. Moral obligations conflict, and so do obligations to different groups. We propose that a broader framework is needed to account for how people balance different social and moral obligations.
Odor baited methods of controlling tsetse have received considerable attention as ecologically friendly ways for African farmers to reduce their levels of livestock trypanosomosis. Over the last decade, a number of tsetse control projects have been set up in East Africa using these methods. Although much has been written, few hard data are available regarding their ongoing success, problems, and sustainability. To evaluate the situation on the ground, the authors conducted a series of site visits to a number of such (...) tsetse control projects in Kenya. A comparison of these projects with others across the region identified the possible constraints to a wider uptake of these methods. Poor information, coupled with inappropriate research and development policies, were found to be the key constraints. These could be overcome with a farmer-based approach to control, with a better application of existing techniques, and with a greater role for veterinarians. Tsetse control needs to become demand rather than supply driven, if it is to bean important component of livestock disease control in Africa. (shrink)