I haven't purchased this, but this abstract is intriguing.

A cleansing fire: Moral outrage alleviates guilt and buffers threat...


Why do people express moral outrage? While this sentiment often stems from a perceived violation of some moral principle, we test the counter-intuitive possibility that moral outrage at third-party transgressions is sometimes a means of reducing guilt over one’s own moral failings and restoring a moral identity. We tested this guilt-driven account of outrage in five studies examining outrage at corporate labor exploitation and environmental destruction. Study 1 showed that personal guilt uniquely predicted moral outrage at corporate harm-doing and support for retributive punishment. Ingroup (vs. outgroup) wrongdoing elicited outrage at corporations through increased guilt, while the opportunity to express outrage reduced guilt (Study 2) and restored perceived personal morality (Study 3). Study 4 tested whether effects were due merely to downward social comparison and Study 5 showed that guilt-driven outrage was attenuated by an affirmation of moral identity in an unrelated context. [emphasis mine]

While the researchers mention moral outrage over corporate wrongdoing, the first image that leaps to my mind is the self-righteousness of right wing hate radio and the GOP "red meat" strategy to whip up support.

image source

So people can restore their perceived personal morality by angry moralizing against a hapless group or individual, after they've act like assholes. It's like an indulgence, but instead of paying off a church you get to indulge in even more nastyness, all guilt-free. Wait, isn't that what abusers do when they beat up their wives for imagined wrongs?

Ah, a moral equivalent of "easy tricks and tips", much less bother than actually working through your moral failings and doing better, to clear your conscience.

image source (rim label mine)

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