The unanticipated interpersonal and societal consequences of choice: Victim-blaming and reduced support for the public good, Psychological Science
Choice makes North Americans feel more in control, free, and independent, and thus has many positive consequences for individuals' motivation and well-being. We report five studies that uncovered novel consequences of choice for public policy and interpersonal judgments. Studies 1 through 3 found that activating the concept of choice decreases support for policies promoting intergroup equality (e.g., affirmative action) and societal benefits (e.g., reducing environmental pollution), but increases support for policies promoting individual rights (e.g., legalizing drugs). Studies 4 and 5 found that activating the concept of choice increases victim blaming and decreases empathy for disadvantaged people. Study 5 found that choice does not decrease Indians' empathy for disadvantaged individuals, indicating that the social and interpersonal consequences of choice are likely culture-specific. This research suggests that the well-known positive effects of choice for individuals can be accompanied by an array of previously unexamined and potentially negative outcomes for other people and for society.
Krishna Savani, Nicole Stephens, Hazel Rose Markus
Savani, Krishna, Nicole Stephens, and Hazel Rose Markus. 2011. The unanticipated interpersonal and societal consequences of choice: Victim-blaming and reduced support for the public good. Psychological Science. 22(6): 795-802.