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Moral actor, selfish agent.(Report)(Author abstract)

People are motivated to behave selfishly while appearing moral. This tension gives rise to 2 divergently motivated selves. The actor-the watched self-tends to be moral; the agent-the self as executor-tends to be selfish. Three studies present direct evidence of the actorEs and agentEs distinct motiv... Full description

Journal Title: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology May, 2014, Vol.106(5), p.790(13)
Main Author: Frimer, Jeremy A.
Other Authors: Schaefer, Nicola K. , Oakes, Harrison
Format: Electronic Article Electronic Article
Language: English
Subjects:
Quelle: Cengage Learning, Inc.
ID: ISSN: 0022-3514
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recordid: gale_ofa369189008
title: Moral actor, selfish agent.(Report)(Author abstract)
format: Article
creator:
  • Frimer, Jeremy A.
  • Schaefer, Nicola K.
  • Oakes, Harrison
subjects:
  • Morality -- Analysis
  • Egotism -- Analysis
  • Goals (Psychology) -- Research
ispartof: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, May, 2014, Vol.106(5), p.790(13)
description: People are motivated to behave selfishly while appearing moral. This tension gives rise to 2 divergently motivated selves. The actor-the watched self-tends to be moral; the agent-the self as executor-tends to be selfish. Three studies present direct evidence of the actorEs and agentEs distinct motives. To recruit the self-as-actor, we asked people to rate the importance of various goals. To recruit the self-as-agent, we asked people to describe their goals verbally. In Study 1, actors claimed their goals were equally about helping the self and others (viz., moral); agents claimed their goals were primarily about helping the self (viz., selfish). This disparity was evident in both individualist and collectivist cultures, attesting to the universality of the selfish agent. Study 2 compared actorsE and agentsE motives to those of people role-playing highly prosocial or selfish exemplars. In content (Study 2a) and in the impressions they made on an outside observer (Study 2b), actorsE motives were similar to those of the prosocial role-players, whereas agentsE motives were similar to those of the selfish role-players. Study 3 accounted for the difference between the actor and agent: Participants claimed that their agentEs motives were the more realistic and that their actorEs motives were the more idealistic. The selfish agent/moral actor duality may account for why implicit and explicit measures of the same construct diverge, and why feeling watched brings out the better angels of human nature.
language: English
source: Cengage Learning, Inc.
identifier: ISSN: 0022-3514
fulltext: fulltext
issn:
  • 0022-3514
  • 00223514
url: Link


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subjectMorality -- Analysis ; Egotism -- Analysis ; Goals (Psychology) -- Research
descriptionPeople are motivated to behave selfishly while appearing moral. This tension gives rise to 2 divergently motivated selves. The actor-the watched self-tends to be moral; the agent-the self as executor-tends to be selfish. Three studies present direct evidence of the actorEs and agentEs distinct motives. To recruit the self-as-actor, we asked people to rate the importance of various goals. To recruit the self-as-agent, we asked people to describe their goals verbally. In Study 1, actors claimed their goals were equally about helping the self and others (viz., moral); agents claimed their goals were primarily about helping the self (viz., selfish). This disparity was evident in both individualist and collectivist cultures, attesting to the universality of the selfish agent. Study 2 compared actorsE and agentsE motives to those of people role-playing highly prosocial or selfish exemplars. In content (Study 2a) and in the impressions they made on an outside observer (Study 2b), actorsE motives were similar to those of the prosocial role-players, whereas agentsE motives were similar to those of the selfish role-players. Study 3 accounted for the difference between the actor and agent: Participants claimed that their agentEs motives were the more realistic and that their actorEs motives were the more idealistic. The selfish agent/moral actor duality may account for why implicit and explicit measures of the same construct diverge, and why feeling watched brings out the better angels of human nature.
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abstractPeople are motivated to behave selfishly while appearing moral. This tension gives rise to 2 divergently motivated selves. The actor-the watched self-tends to be moral; the agent-the self as executor-tends to be selfish. Three studies present direct evidence of the actorEs and agentEs distinct motives. To recruit the self-as-actor, we asked people to rate the importance of various goals. To recruit the self-as-agent, we asked people to describe their goals verbally. In Study 1, actors claimed their goals were equally about helping the self and others (viz., moral); agents claimed their goals were primarily about helping the self (viz., selfish). This disparity was evident in both individualist and collectivist cultures, attesting to the universality of the selfish agent. Study 2 compared actorsE and agentsE motives to those of people role-playing highly prosocial or selfish exemplars. In content (Study 2a) and in the impressions they made on an outside observer (Study 2b), actorsE motives were similar to those of the prosocial role-players, whereas agentsE motives were similar to those of the selfish role-players. Study 3 accounted for the difference between the actor and agent: Participants claimed that their agentEs motives were the more realistic and that their actorEs motives were the more idealistic. The selfish agent/moral actor duality may account for why implicit and explicit measures of the same construct diverge, and why feeling watched brings out the better angels of human nature.
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