The effect of moral loss and gain mindset on confronting racism

Hanna Szekeres*, Eran Halperin, Anna Kende, Tamar Saguy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In the present research, we tested whether the prospect of moral failure or moral gain can motivate (some) people to confront racism. We investigated the influence of moral loss and moral gain mindset on people's tendency to contest racism as a function of their moral commitment to non-prejudice. Drawing on research on regulatory focus, we predicted that a moral loss mindset (vs. control) would increase confronting tendencies among those who are morally committed to non-prejudice (to safeguard their moral self-concept). A moral gain mindset (vs. control) was expected to increase confronting among those who are less committed to non-prejudice (to enhance their moral self-concept). In Experiment 1, participants were presented with racist scenarios. We varied the framing of moral considerations involved (loss vs. gain vs. control) and assessed confronting intentions. In Experiment 2, participants went through a moral mindset intervention. After a few days, using a behavioral paradigm, we tested their actual confronting during a racist situation. We found partial evidence to our predictions. Those highly committed to non-prejudice (as indicated by a measure of moral conviction in Experiment 1, but by a measure of moral identity in Experiment 2) were significantly more prone to confront in the loss mindset condition than in the control. Confronting in the gain condition was not significantly different than in the control condition at any level of moral commitment to non-prejudice. These findings suggest that a moral loss mindset intervention may be effectively used in promoting (some) people's tendency to speak up against racism.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number103833
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
StatePublished - Sep 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors


  • Confronting prejudice
  • Moral framing
  • Moral mindset
  • Regulatory focus theory


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