Group moral discount: Diffusing blame when judging group members

Sigal Vainapel, Ori Weisel, Ro'i Zultan, Shaul Shalvi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


People lie more when they work as a group rather than alone. However, do people suspect and morally evaluate groups and individuals differently when they are suspiciously successful? In four experiments, we examine whether (a) suspiciously successful individuals and groups are judged and punished differently and (b) individual group members are judged differently from the group as one unit. Results suggest that people suspect successful groups and individuals to the same extent. However, group members are less likely to be suspected, judged negatively, punished, and reported on, when they are judged as separate individuals compared with as a group. The findings demonstrate a bias in judgment of group members, stemming from the method of evaluation—holistic or separate. We suggest that in order to minimize bias when judging misconduct by a group, the moral evaluation and punishment of all group members should be considered simultaneously.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-228
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • decision making
  • dishonesty
  • ethical behavior
  • group behavior
  • judgment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


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