Suppressing compassion might make you act immorally

March 16th, 2012 - 4:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 16 (IANS) You might feel like giving a beggar a coin when you are passing by him but then quickly suppress the feeling. This could put you at the risk of acting immorally.

For instance, as an experiment shows, such lose a bit of their commitment to morality.

“Compassion is such a powerful emotion. It’s been called a moral barometer,” said Daryl Cameron, the journal Psychological Science reports.

“In past work, we’ve shown that people suppress their compassion when faced with mass suffering in natural disasters and genocide.

To the degree that suppressing compassion changes how people care about or think about morality, it may put them more at risk for acting immorally,” said Cameron.

He co-authored the study with Keith Payne, both psychology researchers from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, according to a North Carolina statement.

They showed each study participant in their experiment a slideshow of 15 images of subjects including homeless people, crying babies, and victims of war and famine.

Each participant was given one of three tasks. Some were told to try not to feel sympathy, some were told to try not to feel distress and the rest were told to experience whatever emotions come to them.

People who had suppressed compassion did, apparently, have a change in their sense of morality: they were much more likely to either care less about being moral or to say that it’s all right to be flexible about following moral rules.

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