Skip to main content

Our Sense Of Morality Changes As We Age

Does our response to moral-laden situations change as we get older?

Yes, says a new University of Chicago/ National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences study.

The researchers asked 127 people between the ages of four and 36 to watch nearly 100 video clips that showed intentional actions (for example, someone getting shoved) as well as accidental actions (for example, a golfer hitting someone mistakenly with a club). They also viewed inanimate objects getting damaged (for example, a teapot getting dropped).

What did the researchers learn? The younger we are, the more likely we are to see others' actions as always malicious, whether these actions happen to people or objects. But the older we get, the more we distinguish between people and objects and tend to excuse the damage done to objects as a simple accident.

This study could tell us something about the workplace, where it's not hard to picture a 40-year-old old timer telling his 23-year-old co-worker to chillax because it's not worth crying over spilled milk as this young co-worker continues to stew in a steaming broth of moral outrage. Geez, don't get all bent out of shape because no one did it intentionally, dude! It's not a big deal, just let it go. It. Was. An. Accident.

Before we know it, we're all outraged by the outrage. Or something like that.

If you've ever found yourself stuck in this conversation loop with a junior partner who just can't seem to let something rather inconsequential go, you now have the research to back you up.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Seven tips for dealing with a jealous coworker

Look at you, doing so well at work! We're so happy for you. Well, most of us are happy for you and refuse to spend the entire work day talking behind your back. Let's talk about how to handle our jealous co-workers!Like every other professional, you've no doubt experienced your share of failures and successes. Lately, however, things seem to be going your way at work. And how! Perhaps you've managed to ace an important project this quarter, been instrumental in landing a huge client, earned some well-deserved rewards for this and that, or -- egads! -- been given a slight promotion or additional work responsibilities (e.g., the work responsibilities you actually want).You're quietly chuffed, but somehow your co-workers seem none too pleased with this rapid turn of events. Oh no, what should you do now?It's a workplace tale older than the disjointed last season of Mad Men. The playing field in the department was even, cozy and overall very friendly -- until so-an…

Employees Blame Technology For Slowing Them Down At Work

Do you feel like you're always working, but never getting very much done? If so, you're not alone. Too much technology, and too much red tape, keep slowing us down at work. But technology, and more of it, is supposed to make our lives easier! Too much technology, however, does not compute for employees. A new SAP/Knowledge@Wharton survey of almost 700 corporate employees finds a full 60% of respondents blame technology "for inhibiting their ability to meet strategic goals." Gee, anyone who has ever used the self-checkout line at the grocery store can tell you that. However, 40% surveyed said that looking for ways to simplify the technology has been "a low priority" for their company. Too much paperwork is an on-going problem for the workplace, too. A new ServiceNow survey of nearly 1,000 managers finds that 90% are doing too much administrative work, no matter the size of the company. This paperwork includes filling out forms, writing status updates, …

Is Your Co-worker Always Late For Work?

You've started the workday, but where is your co-worker? Oh, she's running late again, just like yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. Let's get an early start on solving her tardiness problem, shall we? Working with someone who is consistently late is one of the most annoying aspects of office life, and also one of the most common, unfortunately. It's a universal theme of the workplace that everyone will get to work on time (give or take a few minutes...) except for the employee who is egregiously late nearly every day. And the excuses can get pretty amazing. Employees became more punctual as the Great Recession lingered, at least according to surveys. Everyone, that is, except for your able-bodied but habitually-tardy co-worker. It's bad enough dealing with tardiness when you're a manager, but it can be even more frustrating when you're a rank-and-file peer without any magical "shape up or ship out" managerial powers. So you…