The BBC thinks I’m morally lenient

The BBC offers a quiz to Test Your Morality (HT: Brian Green at The Moral Mindfield).

Basically they present you with some scenarios of what someone has done and ask you to give 1-10 ratings of your sense of wrongness, of anger, and of disgust, as well as your desire to avoid and to punish such a person. Then it tells you what you told it.  They are also selling it as testing a scientific hypothesis, but I don’t take that angle all that serious.

So according to the BBC I’m below average in all measures of condemnation, but especially in anger.  It would be great if that was true, but I happen to know myself better than the BBC and it isn’t.

Nobody takes this kind of Internet test seriously anyway, but I’ll spoil the fun and give a reason for dismissing it: They ask you to rate various emotions on a 1 to 10 scale that isn’t calibrated to anything. This is not unusual in the social sciences, but at least for evaluating individuals it’s bunk. I think the normal reaction is to put some imagined act at 10 and then to compare to that.  And I suspect my imagination runs a little wilder than mosts. I think I can see some evidence of this on the punishing scale.  I interpreted it as if I was the competent authority, because otherwise punishing would simply be non of my business and I would have to check 1 everywhere.  I suppose most people would do the same instinctively and that gives an objective calibration, because we know what kind of punishments governments dole out.  And I was indeed closer to average on this scale than on the ones calibrated only by imagination.

Still it’s fun. Go try it.

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