Time, Abstraction and Morality : A quantitative study investigating the interactive effect of time perspective and abstraction on moral concern
Abstract: Based on Construal Level Theory (Trope & Liberman, 2010), the present study examines the impact of temporal distance on moral concern. A manipulation on individuals’ mind-set has been made in to abstract (High level) versus concrete (Low level) mentality to inspect the ability to effect peoples’ moral concern. Our first hypothesis is that future-oriented people should show more moral concern than present-oriented individuals. Present-oriented people should, however, after an abstract manipulation show a higher moral concern, correspondent with future-oriented individual’s moral concern. 176 undergraduates from a Swedish university participated in the study. The respondents were asked to answer a questionnaire, and a scale was used to measure the individual temporal perspective (Consideration of Future Consequences scale, CFC) and then a manipulation was made. Half of the participants were allotted an abstract (high level) manipulation, and the other half were given a concrete (low level) manipulation. The manipulation was followed by a questionnaire that measured the moral concern, in the form of blame, attributed to morally questionable actions. We found a positive correlation between temporal focus and moral concern. The manipulation however showed no effect of abstraction on peoples’ moral concern. Nor did a two-way between subjects ANOVA show a significant interaction between temporal perspective and abstraction, providing no support for our second and third hypotheses. An environmental impact on the respondents is discussed as a possible reason for the results not being fully consistent with previous studies. For future research we suggest similar longitudinal studies, which would supply researchers with the opportunity to study the long-term effect on different types of moral.
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