Anger at perceived moral violation: A situational determinant of moral outrage

Shunsuke Uehara, Tomohiro Nakagawa, Yusuke Kunisa, Eri Iwabuchi, Toru Tamura, Takemi Mori

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    1 Citation (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Anger at the violation of a moral standard has been called moral outrage. However, recent research found that only when the victim of a moral violation was oneself (or a member of one's group) did it evoke strong anger. This suggests that the violation of a moral standard itself does not elicit anger, and such anger may be evidence of personal anger evoked by harm to oneself (or a member of one's group). In our study, we assume that moral outrage may be evoked when the likelihood of restoring fairness (e.g., compensation) is expected. We conducted three experiments in which Japanese university students read a newspaper report (fictitious) depicting an abduction case. For half of the participants, the abducted victim was Japanese; for the other half, Slovenian. After reading the news story, they were asked to report the intensity of the feelings of anger and whether the abduction was morally wrong. We found that the report evoked considerable anger only when the abducted victim was Japanese, regardless of whether restoring fairness was actually expected. This indicated that the reported anger provided evidence only of personal anger, not of moral outrage; thus, the likelihood of restoring fairness is not a determinant of moral outrage. These findings imply that personal anger, rather than moral outrage, is more prevalent in social life.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)158-168
    Number of pages11
    JournalResearch in Social Psychology
    Volume28
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2013 Sep 30

    Keywords

    • Anger
    • Likelihood of restoring fairness
    • Moral outrage
    • Personal anger

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology

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  • Cite this

    Uehara, S., Nakagawa, T., Kunisa, Y., Iwabuchi, E., Tamura, T., & Mori, T. (2013). Anger at perceived moral violation: A situational determinant of moral outrage. Research in Social Psychology, 28(3), 158-168.