Ethics. Research. Community.

"... As you would have them do unto you": Does imagining yourself in the other's place stimulate moral action?

Personality & social psychology bulletin. 
[Record Source: PubMed]
Philosophers, psychologists, and religious teachers have suggested that imagining yourself in another's place will stimulate moral action. The authors tested this idea in two different situations. In Experiment 1, participants had the opportunity to assign themselves and another research participant to tasks, with one task clearly more desirable than the other. Imagining oneself in the other's place did little to increase the morality (fairness) of the decision. A different form of perspective taking, imagining the other's feelings, increased direct assignment of the other to the desirable task, apparently due to increased empathy. In Experiment 2, participants confronted a different decision: either accept an initial task assignment that would give them highly positive consequences and the other participant nothing or change the assignment so they and the other would each receive moderately positive consequences. In this situation, imagining oneself in the other's place did significantly increase moral action.
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