Nov 162012
 November 16, 2012

Benefiting from Misfortune: When Harmless Action are Judged to be Morally Blameworthy

Yoel Inbar, Assistant Professor of Social Psychology at Tilburg University, will be speaking December 10th as part of the Monday Seminar Series from 12:00-1:30 in room 101, West Duke Building. This talk is an extension of the original series schedule, and will be the last of the year.

Dominant theories of moral blame require an individual to have caused or intended harm. Nevertheless, there are cases where no harm is caused or intended, yet individuals are nonetheless deemed worthy of blame. Specifically, individuals are judged to be blameworthy when they engage in actions that enable them to benefit from another’s misfortune (e.g., betting that a company’s stock will decline or that a natural disaster will occur). Inbar will present evidence suggesting that perceptions of the actor’s “wicked desires” are responsible for this phenomenon. He will then discuss some implications for markets and present a field study examining people’s reluctance to benefit from misfortune.

Inbar’s research concerns the interplay between two general mental processes that influence judgment: rational, deliberate analysis, and intuitive, emotional reactions. His work looks at the interaction between these two kinds of thinking and the implications for people’s beliefs, actions, and choices. Examinations explore how intuition affects our choices; how our moral beliefs determine our own actions and our judgments of others; and how the emotion of disgust can predict our moral and political attitudes.