People who follow their instinct (intuition) are less likely to indulge in immoral actions, suggests a new study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
The author of the study, Sarah Ward, psychology doctoral candidate from the University of Missouri, examined how people following their gut instinct would behave in certain situations.
The way intuition works has remained evasive. In psychology, intuition, or gut instinct, is defined as understanding something without using conscious reasoning: something that happens to us all the time. According to psychologist Dr. Joan Harvey from Newcastle University, we make use of both emotions and available information for decision-making.
Ward tested whether relying on intuition influences moral behaviour. The 100 individuals who participated in her experiments first has to complete surveys to gain information of how much they would act on their intuition. Then, they had to read about a fictional situation where they made a mistake but blamed a colleague. They were later asked if they were willing to pay for hand cleaning soap after reading the stories (because previous research suggests that people might feel the need to physically clean themselves after committing evil deeds). Ward wanted to find out whether immoral actions would repulse those participants who would follow their gut feeling.
The results show that those who were more likely to act on instinct were more open to the idea of paying a higher price to have the hand cleanser.
The participants were also asked to write about a real-life event where they acted immorally, and they later took an IQ test and were told the best of them would win a lottery ticket. The answers were placed next to them, and they were to mark their own papers. The results show that those more likely to follow their instinct were less likely to cheat.
Ward, therefore, concludes that individuals who would would act on their intuition are less likely to resort to cheating after reflecting on a time when they acted immorally.