STUDY ALERT: Eavesdropping on Character: Assessing Everyday Moral Behaviors

December 29, 2015 in Study Alerts

Eavesdropping on Character: Assessing Everyday Moral Behaviors

Kathryn L. Bollich, John M. Doris, Simine Vazire, Charles L. Raison, Joshua J. Jackson, Matthias R. Mehl

Despite decades of interest in moral character, comparatively little is known about moral behavior in everyday life. This paper reports a novel method for assessing everyday moral behaviors using the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR)—a digital audio-recorder that intermittently samples snippets of ambient sounds from people’s environments—and examines the stability of these moral behaviors. In three samples (combined N = 186), participants wore an EAR over one or two weekends. Audio files were coded for everyday moral behaviors (e.g., showing sympathy, gratitude) and morally-neutral comparison language behaviors (e.g., use of prepositions, articles). Results indicate that stable individual differences in moral behavior can be systematically observed in daily life, and that their stability is comparable to the stability of neutral language behaviors.

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