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This page features timely information as well as special workshops and seminars presented by our members.

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November/December 2008


How We React to Moralizing

by Joyce Parker, Ph.D.


Stanford researchers Alex Jordan and Benoit Monin have found that when subjects feel embarrassed or foolish about their decisions or choices they tend to denigrate others who make better choices or have more morally right opinions. But if subjects are first made to feel good about themselves, they take criticism better and don’t lash back at others. We tend to judge others on the basis of morality and competence. The researchers say the perfect defense is self-affirmations. Participants in their experiments were first asked to write about qualities they liked in themselves. Then they were asked to rate others who were fighting for a just cause or rebelling against something that was wrong. The participants who had written self affirmations were less likely to lash back and more likely to accept the value of others’ criticisms. As the authors note, “Self-affirmation doesn’t just reduce the knee-jerk dismissal of others who break the status quo; it frees us to rethink our own obedience and maybe even to respond to clever behavior by emulating it.”

Taken from “Insights”, Psychology Today, November/December Issue 2008, p. 32.

  The author of this article, and founder of the website, Joyce Parker, passed away in 2011. To honor her we are keeping her articles posted at this website.

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