Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bad drives reactions, Good propels behaviors

From Wang et al., slightly edited:
Research across disciplines suggests that bad is stronger than good and that individuals punish deception more than they reward honesty. However, methodological issues in previous research limit the latter conclusion. Three experiments resolved these issues and consistently found the opposite pattern: In the first experiment individuals rewarded honesty more frequently and intensely than they punished deception. The second experiment extended these counter-intuitive findings by revealing a divergence between evaluation and behavior: Evaluative reactions to deception were stronger than those to honesty, but behavioral intentions in response to honesty were stronger than those in response to deception. In addition, individuals wanted to avoid deceivers more than they wanted to approach honest actors. The third experiment found that punishment, but not reward, frequencies were sensitive to costs. Moderated-mediation tests revealed the role of different psychological mechanisms: Negative affect drove punishments, whereas perceived trustworthiness drove rewards. Overall, bad appears to be stronger than good in influencing psychological reactions, but good seems to be stronger than bad in influencing behavior.

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