American Psychological Association has revealed that people who behave wrongly or unethically, are judged less and forgiven easily by their loved ones in comparison to people who are not close to them. However, this judgment comes at the expense of the sense of closed ones of sense of self-worth.
New research published in the journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that people react more lenient and kindly with their partners, family, or friend’s negative behaviors as opposed to a stranger with the same behavior.
How did the researchers find out?
Researchers carried out a range of four experiments comprising more than 1,100 participants. In the first experiment, participants read about a possible situation where their loved ones such as partners, a close friend, or a stranger perpetrated an unfair or immoral action: like stealing money from a charity collection jar.
Other experiments include recalling moments of unethical acts by their loved ones and asking participants to keep a record of moral violations they observed each day for 15 days.
In every experiment, participants answered a series of questions about the person who committed the act, the severity of the act, and how harshly the transgressor should be punished. Participants also answered questions about how they felt about themselves, including any negative emotions they experienced and their sense of morality.
In the last experiment, participants worked with their close ones and were taken to a separate room and given fake responses from their partners which indicated lying, selfishness, or an immoral act.
In the first three experiments, participants felt less anger, contempt, and disgust toward family and close friends who behaved badly. In the last experiment, the answers regarding the punishments of their loved one’s actions were the same but expressed more strongly as the closed ones were present physically.
The participants ranked their loved ones as more moral and desired to punish or criticize them lighter than strangers. Nevertheless, participants also felt more humiliation, guilt, and shame and described more unfavorable evaluations of their morality when someone dear to them acted in immoral or ethical misbehavior.
The drawbacks of the research
Forbes thinks the less constant impacts recognized in the fourth experiment can be because the dishonest information given to participants in this study was not told to the participants beforehand, and was initially rudely shared with them by a stranger.
Stellar gathers that this research can be further detailed if other relationships were also taken into account, such as shared group membership.
Another constraint of the experiment was the samples which were dominantly 80% white, especially the participants from the first three experiments.