Organic food is often associated with putting less strain on the environment, and making conscientious decisions about what should be eaten for the sake of the planet. As a result, studies indicate that these same people may be less inclined to carry on their morals in other aspects of their lives, and take a much harsher stance on controversial subjects.
The journal Social Psychological and Personality Science recently conducted a study in which subjects were divided into separate groups, and shown pictures of organic foods, comfort foods and foods that fit into neither category. At the end of the study researchers found that the organic food group responded to a set of questions much differently than the other participants in the study. The subjects were all asked to voice their opinions on different kinds of moral transgressions, the vegan group judged the issues much more harshly than the other groups.
The group behind the study suggested that this behavior might stem from the ‘moral terminology’ seen on so many organic foods. The researchers wondered if people would consider themselves superior to other based upon exposure to organic food, and how that would begin to affect their behavior.
In 2010 a similar study in Psychological Science was published called “Do green Products Make Us Better People?” This study focused on people who primarily purchased green items, and found that they developed a condition known as ‘moral balancing’ or ‘compensatory ethics’ where they were more likely to cheat and steal because they felt they were entitled to. Former Vice President Al Gore was a prime example of this, running up huge electricity bills in his own home, while lecturing on the need to save electricity.
Ultimately the study found that consumption of green products does not create ‘better people’, as these subjects were up to six times more likely than regular consumers to steal or cheat if given the chance. While these studies should in no way undermine the consumption of organic food or sustainable products, they do provide an interesting window into the patterns of human behavior.
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