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Conformorality. A Study on Group Conditioning of Normative Judgment

Abstract

How does other people’s opinion affect judgments of norm transgressions? In our study, we used a modification of the famous Asch paradigm (1951, 1955) to examine conformity in the moral domain. The question we addressed was how peer group opinion alters normative judgments of scenarios involving violations of moral, social, and decency norms. The results indicate that even moral norms are subject to conformity, especially in situations with a high degree of social presence. Interestingly, the degree of conformity can distinguish between different types of norms.

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Notes

  1. In what follows, ‘social convention’ is used as a synonym for ‘social norm.’

  2. Interestingly, also for Turiel, emotions are prominent aspects of moral norms. Reporting on children’s reactions to different norm transgressions, Turiel (1977) writes: “The feedback in the context of moral transgressions generally focused on the effects of actions upon others and on emotional reactions. In contrast, the feedback in the context of social-conventional transgressions focused on aspects of social order, such as rules, sanctions, and norm violations” (Turiel 1977, p. 110; see also Nucci and Turiel 1978).

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Hans Westerbeek, Stephan Hartmann, Natalie Gold, Francesco Guala, Edouard Machery, Henrik Singmann, Carel van Wijk and Eric Postma as well as to the audiences of the following workshops and conferences where the paper was presented, including:

• Philosophy, Politics and Economics Talk, University of Pennsylvania. USA, March 2012

• Rotterdam-TilburgWorkshop in Philosophy of Science. Tilburg University, The Netherlands, November 2011

• Workshop on Formal Epistemology Meets Experimental Philosophy, Tilburg University, The Netherlands, September 2011

• Workshop on Morality and the Cognitive Sciences. University of Latvia, Latvia, May 2011

MC is grateful to the British Society for the Philosophy of Science and to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft-priority program “New Frameworks of Rationality” (SPP 1516) for financial support.

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Correspondence to Matteo Colombo.

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Lisciandra, C., Postma-Nilsenová, M. & Colombo, M. Conformorality. A Study on Group Conditioning of Normative Judgment. Rev.Phil.Psych. 4, 751–764 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13164-013-0161-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13164-013-0161-4

Keywords

  • Social Norm
  • Moral Norm
  • Social Presence
  • Norm Type
  • Social Convention