Posted in Psychology & Medicine


People tend to believe that morality is an absolute concept, or that people cannot easily be “turned” away from their values. However, many interesting experiments have proved that our morality may be more easily manipulated than previously thought.

It has been shown that various factors affect our decision making processes. For example, when a subject is near a drawing of an eye, such as a poster, they tend to be more honest and less likely to cheat in an exam. The opposite effect is seen when there is dim lighting, even if it is only slightly dimmer (as in not dark). This can be explained by our subconscious wanting to be moral when seen by others, while acting much more freely when it believes we are hidden (the classic example being babies believing that if they do not see it, it does not exist). Not only are there obvious examples like this, but there are also strange factors such as large trees lowering crime rates, while examples of bad behaviour (such as graffiti or broken windows) elicit bad behaviour on the observer as well. 

The relationship between religion and morality has also been a time-old philosophical question. It has been shown that anything that invokes the image of a deity brings out generous, good behaviour in people, as it plays to the fear element (that someone is always watching and will bring consequences) in the mind. However, there have also been cases such as a police strike in a Canadian town causing mass lootings and a significant spike in crime rates despite the strong religious background of all the people. It is also notable that Hitler and Stalin were both strong Christians, yet their actions are still considered some of the most evil acts in history.

Therefore, it is entirely possible that morality is a learned behaviour that only exists for an effective society, meaning that it can also be twisted by many different factors.

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