Lifting the Veil of Morality: Choice Blindness and Attitude Reversals on a Self-Transforming Survey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

What exactly are opinions? What does it mean to express an attitude? Given the ubiquitous use of surveys, polls and rating scales, it seems we ought to have firm answers to these fundamental questions, but we do not. Here we present a novel approach to investigate the nature of attitudes. We created a self-transforming paper survey of moral opinions, covering both foundational principles, and current dilemmas hotly debated in the media. This survey ‘magically’ exposed participants to a reversal of their previously stated attitudes, allowing us to record whether they were prepared to endorse and argue for the opposite view of what they had stated only moments ago. The result showed that the majority of the reversals remained undetected, and a full 69% of the participants failed to detect at least one of two changes. In addition, participants often constructed coherent and unequivocal arguments supporting the opposite of their original position. These results suggest a dramatic potential for flexibility in our moral attitudes, and indicates a clear role for self-attribution and post-hoc rationalization in attitude formation and change.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)

Keywords

  • Choice Blindness, Decision Making, Moral Psychology, Social Psychology, Cognitive Science
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere45457
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume7
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2012
Peer-reviewedYes