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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2003 Mar;84(3):498-510.

Moral value transfer from regulatory fit: what feels right is right and what feels wrong is wrong.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, USA.


People experience regulatory fit (E. T. Higgins, 2000) when the strategic manner of their goal pursuit suits their regulatory orientation, and this regulatory fit feels right. Fit violation feels wrong. Four studies tested the proposal that experiences of fit can transfer to moral evaluations. The authors examined transfer of feeling wrong from fit violation by having participants in a promotion or prevention focus recall transgressions of commission or omission (Studies 1 and 2). Both studies found that when the type of transgression was a fit violation, participants expressed more guilt. Studies 3 and 4 examined transfer of feeling right from regulatory fit. Participants evaluated conflict resolutions (Study 3) and public policies (Study 4) as more right when the means pursued had fit.

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