When Principled Deviance Becomes Moral Threat: Testing Alternative Mechanisms for the Rejection of Moral Rebels

When Principled Deviance Becomes Moral Threat: Testing Alternative Mechanisms for the Rejection of Moral Rebels

By
Benoît Monin, Kieran O'Connor
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations (GPIR). September
2016, Vol. 19, Issue 5, Pages 676-693

Monin, Sawyer, and Marquez (2008) demonstrated that a rebel who refused to participate in a racially prejudiced decision task was derogated by actors who had themselves taken part in the task, but exalted by uninvolved observers. These authors argued that this rejection resulted from actors who expected and resented imagined moral reproach from the rebel. Two new studies address alternative explanations for such rejection of moral rebels. Study 1 rules out both (a) self-presentation and (b) a more cognitive alternative wherein anchoring on one’s first impression of a task leads to do-gooder derogation. Study 2 breaks down the principled rebellion into its two components, a principled stance and rebellion itself, to show that both seem to play a part in derogation. Individuals imagine that moral others would reject them, which in turn leads to rejecting those deviants.