BEIJING, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) — A few years ago, 80 Parisians were given a chance to take part in a pilot of the new reality show La Zone Xtr?me, according tomedia reports. After the producers greeted the participants in the studio, they were asked to form a group of two, one acting as a “questioner” and the other as a “candidate”.
Things darkened when the participants took the stage and the host explained the rules to them. According to the rules of the game, once the respondent answers incorrectly, the questioner will use an electric shock to punish the respondent. And each time to increase the intensity of electric shock, up to 460 volts, up to twice the voltage of the European standard socket. If a pair of participants survives 27 rounds, they win. After explaining the rules, the respondent was taken into a small room and tied to a chair, while the questioner sat in the center of the stage. The game then officially begins.
Since it was only a trial broadcast, participants were told that they would not receive any monetary rewards after winning the competition. But most of the questioners still electrocuted the respondents, and even after hearing the screams of pain coming out of the small room, they didn’t stop.
Fortunately, these screams were only made by the respondents, who were not really electrocuted. The questioners then unwittingly participated in a well-designed experiment to help scientists study the effects of different personalities on moral behavior. You might think that the most vicious questioner must be an impulsive person with an antisocious personality, or at least a lack of virtue. But French scientists have found that the opposite is true, with participants willing to inflict the strongest electric shock actually scoring highest on the moral score. This personality trait is often associated with caution, self-discipline, and so on.
“It’s more difficult for someone to break orders if they’re used to being kind, orderly, and well integrated into society.” Laurent Bègue, a behavioral scientist at the University of Grenoble-Alpes, points out. In these cases, this personality means that such people are more willing to torture others.
In addition to these findings, a series of new studies have shown that people with a high degree of self-control and self-discipline tend to have unexpected dark side. These studies can help us understand why “model citizens” sometimes become “poisonous snakes”. It will also help us better understand unethical behavior in the workplace and in other environments.
Self-control has been seen as an advantage for decades. Self-control can be assessed in a variety of ways, such as questionnaires on morality (which examines an individual’s tendency to self-discipline and organization), and experiments on self-control (such as the famous marshmallow test).
People with a high degree of self-control tend to have better learning and work performance, adopt healthier lifestyles, are less likely to overeal or abuse drugs, and prefer to exercise. Such people have the ability to overcome impulses, which means they rarely exhibit aggressive or violent tendencies and have few criminal records. Therefore, people think that self-control can improve people’s moral level. Some scientists have even suggested that self-control is made up of so-called “moral muscles” that determine our ability to act ethically.
But Liad Uziel of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University began a study a few years ago to find out whether “situations” play an important role in determining the outcome of self-control. Self-control, he speculates, is just a useful tool to help people achieve any goals, which can be good or bad. In most cases, our social norms give back to our collaborators, so people with a high degree of self-control fit that expectation. But if we change social norms, the way these people treat others is beyond reprocity.
To test this idea, Uzr conducted a standard psychological experiment called “The Dictator’s Game”. In the experiment, a participant gets a sum of money and can share it with a partner. Because our social norms encourage cooperation with others, people generally show generosity. “It makes sense that they have no reason to share the money with others.” “But participants tend to give a third to others, ” Uzl explains. “Researchers have found that people with a high degree of self-control are more generous when they worry that others will accuse them of being mean. However, if their actions are conducted in secret, without fear of criticism, they will become much more selfish than those with less self-control, unwilling to help others, all in their own interest. In the 30s, they swallowed almost all their money.
People with higher self-control seem to be more careful to choose the timing of antisesociety behavior so as not to be caught by others. In a recent study by David Lane of the University of Western Illinois and colleagues, they asked subjects if they had bad behavior and whether they had suffered consequences for their actions. Sure 20, they found that self-restraint makes people more likely to avoid punishment for dangerous driving and cheating on exams. They seem to judge carefully which behaviors are acceptable to social norms, and if a violation of them affects their reputation, they will act strictly according to them.
These are moral acts in the “grey area”, but if social norms allow such acts to exist, firm willpower will add to the evil behavior. In a gruesome study, Thomas Denson, a psychologist at the University of New South Wales in Australia, invited subjects to the lab and assigned them an unusual task : filling a coffee grinder with bugs. What the subjects didn’t know was that the grinder had been specially designed so that the bugs could actually climb out before they were ground. But as the worm crawls, the grinder still makes a 瘆 squeaking of the human body. The subjects were told that the purpose of the experiment was to better understand “specific interactions between humans and animals”. In this name, this behavior is more socially morally accepted by the subjects.
The study found that the impact of self-control depends on people’s sense of moral responsibility. If someone pays special attention to the moral consequences of their behavior, then self-control has little effect on their behavior. They also kill a certain number of bugs, but even if such people have more self-control, it is not easy for them to follow such orders. But for the other subjects, the more self-control they had, the more bugs they killed. They seem to be more interested in carrying out scientists’ instructions and at suppressing antipathy to the task, which makes them efficient “killers”.
The contestants in the “Extreme Zones” mentioned earlier also exhibited very similar patterns of behavior, but on a much larger scale than the study. The experiment was inspired by a series of controversial experiments carried out by Stanley Milgram in the 1960s. In Milgram’s experiment, he examined whether subjects were willing to torture others with electric shocks in the name of science. These experiments are often used to show people’s absolute obediies to authority. But what the French researchers want to find out is which types of personalities are most likely to follow such instructions. It was found that subjects with a high degree of self-control applied more than 100 volts to their partners during the game. Such a high voltage is enough to cause loss of speech, loss of consciousness, or even death.
Interestingly, in addition to a high degree of self-control, a high degree of obediance (a personality that wants to please others) is the only character that reinforces this brutality. “These people tend to give victims more electric shocks, probably to avoid conflict with the show’s producers.” “They want to be a reliable person, and they want to keep it that way all the time, ” says Mr Baig. “
Baig’s team’s arguments in the paper contrast with 20th-century philosopher Hannah Arendt’s assessment of Adolf Eichmann, a high-level Nazi. Arendt proposed the famous “evil of mediocrity” to describe how ordinary people like Eichmann committed heinous crimes. Baig’s research suggests that the characteristics that lead people to unethical behavior may not be just “mediocre” but, in other cases, “favorite”. For example, we generally choose people with a high sense of morality and obediability as our employees or partners.
Toxic workplace environment.
Baig stressed that the study must be replicated before we can come to a conclusion about human nature. I wonder if characteristics like high self-control can help us predict the probability of someone making unethical behavior. It would be interesting to predict that.
Raine points out that it depends on the strength of social norms. “I think these findings can also be widely used in other behaviors, as long as people can convince themselves that these things don’t hurt others, and that someone has already done so.” For example, there is evidence that the more ethical people are, the greater the probability of tax evasion. In the office, “model employees” may also steal from the company because they feel that “the money doesn’t matter to the company.”
Uzl also suspects that when group cohesion begins to disintegrate, people with a high degree of self-control are more likely to show indifference, such as when their sense of power or authority feels threatened, or when others feel they are competing with themselves. They may be promoting, stabbing you in the back, or patting their boss on the back, not minding how their actions affect others.
If that’s the truth, maybe it’s time to start admiring the people around us who are not very self-disciplined and submissed. Their ineance may annoy us, but at least in a situation like Extreme, you’ll still want them to decide your fate.