Morality and Masochism: Feeling Guilt Leads to Physical Self-Punishment

One important way in which people deal with feeling guilty is through metaphorical actions, such as physical cleansing in order to "wash away" misdeeds (Zhong & Liljenquist, 2006). In two studies, we investigated whether individuals with feelings of guilt seek to metaphorically balance the scales in another way—through self-inflicted physical punishment. Participants who wrote about feeling guilty (Study 1) or about a time that they did something unethical (Study 2) administered stronger shocks to themselves than those who wrote about feeling sad (Study 1) or about a neutral event (Studies 1 and 2).


Yoel Inbar, David Pizarro, and Tom Gilovich (2010) ,"Morality and Masochism: Feeling Guilt Leads to Physical Self-Punishment", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 211-214 .


Yoel Inbar, Harvard University, USA
David Pizarro, Cornell University, USA
Tom Gilovich, Cornell University, USA


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37 | 2010

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