Good Deeds: We like people not for the favors they have done us but for the favors we have done them
Ben Franklin used this strategy to manipulate a political rival to become a friend by asking him for favors
"He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged" (Franklin, 1868/1900).
Bad Deeds: "There's nothing people can't contrive to praise or condemn and find justification for doing so." -Moliere, The Misanthrope
If we harm someone, this induces dissonance between our
action and our self-concept as a decent person.
To resolve this dissonance, we may derogate our victim.
JECKER & LANDY (1969)
Students participated in an intellectual contest that enabled
them to win a substantial sum of money
• Experimenter asked them to return money as favor to
experimenter (liked most)
• Secretary asked them to return money as favor to psychology department
• Not asked to return money (control group) (liked least)
Participants were then given an opportunity to rate the
There are many examples of this in the real world:
• Holocaust - economic struggles, blame the Jews, see Jews as less than human
• Vietnam War - "those aren't people; those are ietnamese"
• Abu Ghraib - fear of terrorism, dehumanization, unfair
treatment of prisoners (torture)
How do you think terrorists justify their behavior?
• Do they see Americans as less than human?
• Religious struggles, struggle for power, they think we are in the way, easiest thing to do is dehumanize Americans, Israelis
DAVIS & JONES (1960)
Induced students to insult a confederate to his face
After doing so (but not before), they found him less attractive
Implications - once we engage in a negative act, we will
attempt to rationalize our behavior (e.g., Vietnam War - My
Lai massacre of innocent civilians)
BERSHEID, BOYE, & WALSTER (1968)
Had participants deliver a shock to a confederate who would or would not have a chance to retaliate
Only those "victims" who could not retaliate were derogated
Implications - prisoners can't retaliate, more likely to be
derogated/dehumanized (e.g., Abu Ghraib)