Feeling Troubled After Witnessing, Failing to Act, or Acting in an Immoral Way
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People can feel troubled after morally problematic events. Previous research suggests that people tend to feel disappointed after witnessing an immoral event, regretful after acting in an immoral way (Coricelli et al., 2005; Gilovich & Medvec, 1994), and wistful after failing to act (Gilovich et al., 1998). A total of 574 university students completed a survey that asked about them about potentially morally injurious events and asked whether they felt troubled after witnessing, failing to act, or acting in a way that violated their personal moral code. Results indicated that acting was relatively more troubling than failing to act, but witnessing an immoral act was more troubling than both acting and failing to act. Witnessing was a more common experience for these respondents, and probably more recent and easier to recall, which may help explain why they also reported being most troubled by this type of experience.