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Want to Be Popular? You’d Better Follow Some Simple Moral Rules

Jim A.C. Everett and Molly Crockett: We found that people who took a deontological approach to the dilemmas (refusing to kill an innocent person, even when this maximized the greater good) were seen as more trustworthy than those who advocated a more flexible, consequentialist approach. And not only did most people say they would rather trust a deontologist than a consequentialist — they also put their money where their mouths were. When asked to entrust another person with a sum of money, participants handed over more money, and were more confident of getting it back, when dealing with someone who refused to sacrifice one to save many, compared with someone who chose to maximize the overall number of lives saved. But this wasn’t the whole story: simply deciding whether or not to sacrifice an innocent person was not the only thing that mattered. We also found that how the choice was made was crucial.

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