Research has shown that cheating is perceived as immoral when it serves the cheater’s interests, though it can be seen as moral when it serves the interests of the perceiver. However, are such biased moral judgments real, or are they merely lip service? To answer the question of whether biased moral judgments actually inform behavior, the authors asked participants to observe a confederate who either cheated for money or did not cheat, which benefited either the confederate alone or both the confederate and the participating observer. Then, participants evaluated the confederate and, finally, played a one shot trust game with her. Cheating influenced moral judgments and decreased behavioral trust, but this only occurred when self-interest was not involved. When self-interest was involved, participants showed no significant differences in trust levels, independent of whether the confederate had cheated or not. Implications for the dual process theory in moral psychology are discussed.
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