Perceived Deservingness and the Toleration of Human Rights Violations: The Problem and a Possible Solution
MetadataShow full item record
Despite general endorsement of universal human rights, people continue to tolerate specific human rights violations. I conducted a two-part study to investigate this issue. For Part I, I examined whether people tolerated torture (a human rights violation) based on the morality and deservingness of the target. Participants tolerated torture more when the target had committed a highly morally reprehensible transgression. This effect was mediated by the target’s perceived deservingness for harsh treatment, and held over and above participants’ abstract support for the right to humane treatment. For Part II, hypocrisy induction was used in an attempt to reduce participants’ toleration of the torture. Participants were assigned to either the hypocrisy induction or control condition. Unexpectedly, participants who tolerated the torture more in Part I reduced their toleration the most in the control condition, possibly because of consistency and floor effects. Limitations and implications of the findings are discussed.