In Secular Morality, The Majority Rules

Experiment shows people accept as right that which is common.

The study showed social conformity strongly influences beliefs about right and wrong, meaning changes in the social environment can quickly alter people’s moral compasses, the researchers said. But, lead researcher Andreas Olsson said in a statement, “The fact that a behavior is common doesn’t automatically mean that it’s right—this idea is based on flawed logic that confuses facts with moral values.”

 

(WNS)–Parents of teens commonly hear, “Everybody else is doing it!” But adolescents are not the only ones who judge right or wrong by others’ actions. Two recent studies on morality showed the choices of the majority often dictate society’s moral standards.

In one study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers gave people money and asked them to play a game in which they could either invest the money for the benefit of all players or keep it for themselves. After each round, another group of participants judged whether the players made morally correct choices and recommended penalties for players who made selfish choices. The observers proposed less severe penalties if most of the players made selfish decisions.

The study showed social conformity strongly influences beliefs about right and wrong, meaning changes in the social environment can quickly alter people’s moral compasses, the researchers said.

But, lead researcher Andreas Olsson said in a statement, “The fact that a behavior is common doesn’t automatically mean that it’s right—this idea is based on flawed logic that confuses facts with moral values.”

In a similar study published in the journal Management Science, researchers showed 273 study participants a video of a single die roll and asked them to report what number they saw. The researchers paid the participants according to whatever number they reported—the higher the number, the higher the pay. Those who participated as individuals responded much more honestly than those in a group. Even people who responded honestly as individuals lied later when they were part of a group.

Group decision-making discussions cause people to doubt the honesty of others, which in turn helps people justify their own dishonest behavior, Lisa Spantig, one of the student researchers, said in a statement.

The studies show the idea that the majority determines right and wrong runs rampant in our society, Avery Foley wrote on the Answers in Genesis blog. But Christians derive their ideas of morality from the Bible.

“When we start with God’s Word, we aren’t prisoners to the changing tide of public opinion,” Foley wrote “The principles in God’s Word are timeless and apply to all Christians, in all times, and can be used in all situations.”

© World News Service. Used with permission.

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