Cognitive scientist Lars Hall set out to determine just how easy it is to fool our moral principles.
Hall and his team at Lund University in Sweden conducted an experiment in which 160 volunteers were asked to fill out a two-page survey about the morality of various world issues covered in the news. In each survey one of the questions was a trick in that when the page was turned over the premise would be altered to mean the opposite of what the volunteer had originally argued but while leaving their response unchanged.
The volunteers were then asked to read out and discuss some of their answers including that to the trick question. 53% of those taking part not only failed to pick up the change but actively argued in favor of the altered statement even though it was the stark opposite of their original position. Hal and his team attributed this result to a phenomenon known as "choice blindness" which highlights the inherent inaccuracies in self-report questionnaires.
"People can be tricked into reversing their opinions on moral issues, even to the point of constructing good arguments to support the opposite of their original positions, researchers report today in PLoS ONE."
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