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Science. 2014 Sep 12;345(6202):1340-3. doi: 10.1126/science.1251560. Epub 2014 Sep 11.

Morality in everyday life.

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Department of Psychology, University of Cologne, 50931 Cologne, Germany.
Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL 60607, USA.
Department of Social Psychology, Tilburg University, 5000, Tilburg, Netherlands.


The science of morality has drawn heavily on well-controlled but artificial laboratory settings. To study everyday morality, we repeatedly assessed moral or immoral acts and experiences in a large (N = 1252) sample using ecological momentary assessment. Moral experiences were surprisingly frequent and manifold. Liberals and conservatives emphasized somewhat different moral dimensions. Religious and nonreligious participants did not differ in the likelihood or quality of committed moral and immoral acts. Being the target of moral or immoral deeds had the strongest impact on happiness, whereas committing moral or immoral deeds had the strongest impact on sense of purpose. Analyses of daily dynamics revealed evidence for both moral contagion and moral licensing. In sum, morality science may benefit from a closer look at the antecedents, dynamics, and consequences of everyday moral experience.

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