The Knobe Effect

What is it? An experiment conducted by Professor Josh Knobe of Yale University in 2003 tested the intentionality ascribed to actions. Here's how it went: Scenario 1: A business executive is told that a new product will increase profits but hurt the environment. He responds that he doesn't care about the environment, just profits. The product is released and results in higher profits, but the environment is hurt. When asked if the business executive hurt the environment, 82% of participants answered yes.

Scenario 2: A business executive is told that a new product will increase profits and help the environment. He responds that he doesn't care about the environment, just profits. The product is released and results in higher profits, and the environment is helped. When asked if the business executive helped the environment, 23% of participants answered yes.

The Knobe Effect states that "people are more likely to assign blame for things that go wrong than to give credit for things that go right."

Interesting, but isn't that our evolutionary need to focus on the negative to ensure survival? Which of course highlights the debate around experimental philosophy AKA X-Phi.