Researchers from the University of Surrey and University of Milano-Bicocca (Italy) collected data from more than 400 participants on behavioural expectations of people described as ‘moral’ and ‘immoral’. Participants were asked to estimate the probability that an individual possessing a characteristic (i.e. honesty) would act in an inconsistent manner (i.e. dishonestly).

It found participants perceived that those with a ‘good’ moral disposition were more likely to act out of character (i.e. immorally) than an immoral person to engage in inconsistent (i.e. moral) behaviours. For example, ‘covering for somebody’ was considered by participants to be a behaviour that could be displayed by a sincere person whereas an insincere person was less likely to be associated with behaviours such as ‘telling the truth’.

Such a finding shows that those who are perceived to have immoral traits will have difficulty in changing how they are viewed by others as they are deemed to be less likely to change than a person classed as moral. This is particularly damaging for those who have a questionable character or are facing legal proceedings and highlights the obstacles they face in reversing perceptions of them. –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about an unlikable character who can’t catch a break because of past behavior.

Journaling Prompt: Do you judge people based on their last behavior? Have you ever been wrong?

Art Prompt: Perception

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the problem of perception in judging people.

Photo Credit: ryan pikkel on Flickr



 

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