Resolving the meat-paradox: A motivational account of morally troublesome behavior and its maintenance

Brock Bastian, Stephen Loughnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

A majority of people the world over eat meat, yet many of these same people experience discomfort when the meat on their plate is linked to the death of animals. We draw on this common form of moral conflict – the meat-paradox – to develop insight into the ways in which morally troublesome behaviors vanish into the commonplace and everyday. Drawing on a motivational analysis, we show how societies may be shaped by attempts to resolve dissonance, in turn protecting their citizens from discomfort associated with their own moral conflicts. To achieve this, we build links between dissonance reduction, habit formation, social influence, and the emergence of social norms and detail our how analysis has implications for understanding immoral behavior and motivations underpinning dehumanization and objectification. Finally, we draw from our motivational analysis to advance new insights into the origins of prejudice and pathways through which prejudice can be maintained and resolved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-299
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Review
Issue number3
Early online date19 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • meat
  • motivation
  • morality
  • prejudice
  • dissonance
  • emotion


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