Blog Gringo

Suppose a person comes to you and asks you to sign paper saying the following:


Hereby, I am agreeing to sell my soul, after my death, to Miss MZ, in exchange of $100

Date___________ Signature _____________


Would you sign the paper? Would you sign the paper even when you don’t have to return the paper to Miss MZ? How much money would be too little or sufficient for you sign the paper? This was a small experiment, done by psychologists and philosophers. And they found that 82% of people refused to sign such a paper. The participants were university students and they were offered $2 rather than $100. Although $2 is a small amount for most of us, it was a significant amount 10 years ago for a student. And it is definitely better than $0. The decision not to sign was independent of the student’s religious and spiritual affiliations.

When asked why wouldn’t they sign it, some would struggle to give a rational justification and would only say “I know that I cannot come up with a rational reason, but I just know that I don’t want to sign it”.

This is a nice example where moral objections were driven primarily by emotion rather than by reason. Food for thought.

Source: Haidt, Bjorklund and Murphy (2007)

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