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The morality of organization versus organized members: Organizations are attributed more control and responsibility for negative outcomes than are equivalent members

Tang, S; Koval, CZ; Larrick, RP; Harris, L; (2020) The morality of organization versus organized members: Organizations are attributed more control and responsibility for negative outcomes than are equivalent members. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , 119 (4) pp. 901-919. 10.1037/pspi0000229. Green open access

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Abstract

Seven experiments demonstrate that framing an organizational entity (the target) as an organization (“an organization comprised of its constituent members”) versus its members (“constituent members comprising an organization”) increases attribution of responsibility to the target following a negative outcome, despite identical information conveyed. Specifically, the target in the organization (vs. members) frame was perceived to have more control over a negative outcome, which led to an increased attribution of responsibility (Studies 1–3). This effect surfaced for both for-profits and nonprofits (Study 5). However, when the target in the members frame had explicit control over the outcome (Study 3), or when participants held strong beliefs in individual free will (Study 4), the effect of frame on responsibility attenuated. To the extent that framing increased perceptions of control, punishment for the target also increased (Studies 6a and 6b). By demonstrating how a subtle shift in framing can impact people’s perceptions and judgments of organizations, we reveal important knowledge about how people understand organizations and the psychological nature of organizational and group perception.

Type: Article
Title: The morality of organization versus organized members: Organizations are attributed more control and responsibility for negative outcomes than are equivalent members
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/pspi0000229
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000229
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10120751
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