The unanticipated interpersonal and societal consequences of choice: Victim Blaming and reduced support for the public good

Krishna Savani*, Nicole M. Stephens, Hazel Rose Markus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

52 Scopus citations

Abstract

Choice makes North Americans feel more in control, free, and independent, and thus has many positive consequences for individuals' motivation and well-being. We report five studies that uncovered novel consequences of choice for public policy and interpersonal judgments. Studies 1 through 3 found that activating the concept of choice decreases support for policies promoting intergroup equality (e.g., affirmative action) and societal benefits (e.g., reducing environmental pollution), but increases support for policies promoting individual rights (e.g., legalizing drugs). Studies 4 and 5 found that activating the concept of choice increases victim blaming and decreases empathy for disadvantaged people. Study 5 found that choice does not decrease Indians' empathy for disadvantaged individuals, indicating that the social and interpersonal consequences of choice are likely culture-specific. This research suggests that the well-known positive effects of choice for individuals can be accompanied by an array of previously unexamined and potentially negative outcomes for other people and for society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)795-802
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Science
Volume22
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011

Keywords

  • India
  • choice
  • empathy
  • libertarianism
  • political attitudes
  • public good
  • victim blaming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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