While bystanders' outrage over moral transgressions may represent a genuine desire to restore justice, such expressions can also be self‐serving—alleviating guilt and bolstering one's moral status. Four studies examined whether individual differences in observer justice sensitivity (JSO) moderate the degree to which outrage at third‐party harm‐doing reflects concerns about one's own moral identity rather than justice per se. Among participants low (vs. high) in JSO, feelings of guilt predicted greater outrage and desire to punish a corporation's sweatshop labor practices (Studies 1 & 2). Furthermore, affirming one's personal moral identity reduced outrage and support for punishing a corporate harm‐doer among those low, but not high in JSO (Studies 3 & 4). Similar moderation was absent for other forms of justice sensitivity and just world beliefs. Effects were not explained by negative affect, empathy, personal harm, or political orientation. Results suggest that JSO uniquely differentiates defensive and justice‐driven moral outrage (150/150).
European Journal of Social Psychology
Rothschild, Z. K.,
Keefer, L. A.
(2018). Righteous or Self-Righteous Anger? Justice Sensitivity Moderates Defensive Outrage at a Third-Party Harm-Doer. European Journal of Social Psychology, 48(4), 507-522.
Available at: https://aquila.usm.edu/fac_pubs/15214