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Title: The fictive pass asymmetry : condemnation of harm, but not purity, is mitigated by fictional contexts
Author: Sabo, John
ISNI:       0000 0004 6347 5214
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2016
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Is there a double standard when it comes to the moral acceptability of fiction that encourages the imagination of acts that violate moral norms of harm and moral norms of purity? Observations of ethics, legal proceedings, and public reactions to different types of media seems to suggest so. Over six experiments this phenomenon, coined the fictive pass asymmetry, will be tested. The fictive pass asymmetry hypothesis proposes that fictional contexts including imagination, film, and virtual environments, will mitigate the condemnation of harm code violations more so than purity code violations. In other words, fictional representations of harm are given a "fictive pass" in moral condemnation, but the fictional representation of purity code violations that involve an abnormal use of one's body are denied a pass, and thus evaluated more similarly across real and fictional contexts. Chapters 1 through 3 introduce the fictive pass asymmetry and review the literature that provide its theoretical framework. Chapter 4 presents three experiments that establish initial evidence in support of the fictive pass asymmetry effects. Experiment 1 presented participants (N = 431) with vignettes that described agents committing either sexual acts or violent acts that were described as occurring in real life, being performed in a video game, or watched in a film. Experiments 2 and 3 (N = 360 and N = 321, respectively) systematically improved methodology by expanding upon the fictive contexts and creating manipulations based more strictly on the moral psychology literature. Chapter 5 presents experiment 4 (N = 312) and experiment 5 (N = 352) which deepened the understanding of the fictive pass asymmetry effects by using mediation analyses to demonstrate how the perceived wrongness of fictional purity code violations can be explained by the extent to which they signal poor moral character. Lastly, chapter 6 contains a final experiment (N = 484) and a series of meta-analyses. The final experiment considers fictive pass asymmetry effects in relation to an opposing theoretical framework, validates a number of manipulations, and tests the presumption of desire as an alternate explanation of fictive pass asymmetry effects. Finally, the meta-analyses aggregate the data of these experiments to highlight the robustness of the fictive pass asymmetry effects. Chapter 7, the concluding chapter, reviews the experiments and discusses the results in regards to theories of anger and disgust, moral theories of act and character, as well as the fictive pass asymmetry's implications in media use and regulation.
Supervisor: Giner-Soroller, Roger Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available