Desensitizing Taboo Tradeoffs: Can Communication By Scientists Reduce Outrage?

Gupta, A and Kabra, A and Pillutla, M (2022) Desensitizing Taboo Tradeoffs: Can Communication By Scientists Reduce Outrage? Academy of Management Proceedings, 2022 (1). ISSN 0065-0668

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Most governments responded to the spread of COVID-19 with lockdowns and social distancing measures. These decisions involve taboo tradeoffs between saving lives and limiting economic damage. Past research has shown that individuals harshly judge those who consider such tradeoffs and react with outrage. We build on the theory of the spyglass self to suggest that communication of taboo tradeoffs by individuals who do not overlap with people’s self-concept could reduce outrage. In line with this hypothesis, we conduct sentiment analysis on people’s responses (N = 5,324) to taboo tradeoff tweets posted by 14 major UK news channels and show that people have lower outrage to taboo tradeoffs presented by scientists than politicians. Our preregistered experiments (NStudy 2 = 1,397, NStudy 3 = 2,085) confirm that reduction in outrage is because of participants’ lower self-concept overlap with the scientists. We discuss implications for policymakers who often have to make taboo tradeoffs.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The research article was published by the author with the affiliation of London Business School
Subjects: Organizational Behaviour
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2024 08:48
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 08:48

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