The research explains why indignation usually does not lead to revolution

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If you are angry at the political feud that forced the federal government to partially close, or for a gold parachute for a managing director who ran a business, you're not alone, but you probably will not do much according to the new research of the Tepper School of Business of Carnegie Mellon University.


The research, co-signed by Rosalind Chow, associate professor of organizational behavior and theory, and Jeffrey Galak, associate professor of marketing, outlines how people respond to two types of injustice: when bad things happen to good people and when things good things happen badly.

First – a bad thing that happens to a good person, like a hurricane that is ravaging a city – human beings are reliably motivated to help, but only nominally, according to research.

"Everyone wants to help, they do it only in a small way," explains Galak. "When a hurricane happens, we want to help, but we give them $ 10, we do not try to build them a new home".

This answer shows that even a small part can help us to believe that justice is restored, Chow explains: "You checked the box to do something good, and the world seems right again".

But the opposite is not necessarily true: when the universe rewards bad people despite their corrupt behavior, people are usually reluctant to do anything about it, even when they are angry at the injustice of the situation.

This is because people often feel that the forces involved in creating the unjust situation are beyond their control, or they would be at least too expensive to make the effort useful, says Galak. So we remain angry, but we often content ourselves with the hope that karma will eventually reach.

On the rare occasions when people decide to act against a bad person, research says they are going to ruin, spending all their resources and energy – not just a symbolic amount – in an attempt to deprive that person of everything they should not have obtained. The desire to completely wipe out a bad person's illicit gains is driven by the feeling that justice will not be served until the bad person is actually discouraged by future bad behavior, which is unlikely to be the case if the punishment is a slap on the wrist For example, for people who believe that President Trump has been unjustly rewarded for the presidency, the indictment may be considered insufficient to discourage a bad future behavior on his part. Only by completely removing his imputation of fortune from the presidency, the dissolution of his activities, justice seems to be adequately served. But since those results are unlikely, many Americans are fed up with rage and are hoping for the best.

So when ordinary people see bad things happening to good people, launching in just a few dollars is good enough. Throwing in a few dollars to punish a bad person who has been unjustly rewarded, however, does not cut it; only when people feel that their actions are guaranteed to send an effective signal to the bad person will they feel obliged to act. Since this kind of guarantee is hard to find, most people will stand aside and wait for karma to reach the level.

The research, entitled "To offset a bit, but to punish a lot: asymmetrical paths to restore justice", will be published on 10 January 2019 in PLOS ONE.


Explore further:
If someone hurts you this year, forgive them can improve your health (as long as you are safe too)

More information:
Jeff Galak et al. Compensate a little, but to punish a lot: asymmetrical paths to restore justice, PLOS ONE (2019). DOI: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0210676

Reference to the magazine:
PLUS ONE

Supplied by:
Carnegie Mellon University

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