“Previous research emphasizes people’s personalities, genes, and upbringing as the main source of moral values and disagreements about morality,” said Peter DeScioli, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Stony Brook University.
“We found that people also adjust their moral values depending on which principle benefits them the most. Our moral principles are more flexible and self-serving than we would like to admit.”
For the study, entitled “Equity or equality? Moral judgments follow the money,” participants worked in pairs to transcribe a paragraph for a cash reward.
One participant was the “typist” who transcribed three paragraphs and the other was the “checker” who transcribed one paragraph, selected randomly from the typist’s paragraphs. If the two partners’ transcriptions matched, then they together earned a cash reward.