Traffic signals are trying on us. They test our patience and our ability to suppress sympathy. Sometimes we are overcome by the feelings of compassion for the beggars rapping at our windows, so we force ourselves not to look or to look away. This happens not just for beggars but also the old or physically challenged. But according to a study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suppressing our feelings of compassion is hard on us. We feel less moral.
“Compassion is such a powerful emotion. It’s been called a moral barometer,” says Daryl Cameron of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the authors of the paper.
Choosing not to be kind is common—whether it’s declining to give money to a homeless person, changing the channel away from a news story about starving people in a far-off land, or otherwise failing to help someone in need, we do it all the time. However, the experts feel that doing this we compromise on our morality and this compromised sense of morality increases our risk of acting immorally.
Association for Psychological Science
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