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Blinded by Passion: How Perceptions of Passion Shape Expectations and Evaluations of Others’ Moral Behavior
Keywords: passion, obsessive passion, morality, unethical behavior
Abstract: In this paper, we investigate people’s lay beliefs about the power of passion to influence moral behavior. Across six studies, we show that people are able to detect the type of passion another person exhibits (obsessive versus harmonious), which in turn, affects their expectations about a person’s future moral behavior. Specifically, we demonstrate that being perceived as obsessively passionate about work lead to two main consequences for these individuals: (1) they were more likely to be expected to engage in unethical behavior compared to other types of passionate individuals (Studies 1a-1b), and (2) they were more likely to be selected for jobs that encourage unethical acts (Studies 2a-2b). Finally, we demonstrate that the differential treatment of obsessively passionate individuals is not reducible to perceptions of a lack of self-control but is driven by unique beliefs about passion (Studies 3a-3c).