Moral Outrage is Self-Serving

An interesting study which connects feelings of outrage at third parties with a person’s own feelings of guilt or self-serving need to establish moral authority:

I’ve long felt too many confuse screaming and verbally or even violently assaulting others with being good, when the ultimate test of character should be your own behaviour and how you act towards others. The irony being that these people often end up being the worst of the worst and everything they claim to hate. If you’ve ever been on the cesspit that is Twitter, you will know what I mean.

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Twitter really isn’t too different to any other community. Block works wonders and you follow who you want to see anyway.

Oh, and i’m outraged at this!

Will this self serving moral outrage be cheaper than the old moral outrage, or just a rort like when servos went self serve?


Outrage is just too outrageous, and moral is not a word I like to use; so how about righteous indigation

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I prefer the idea that all anger is frustration that the world is not how you think it’s supposed to be.
I wouldn’t call it self-serving so much as self-affirming.
But even so, it’s not exactly news.
It’s not like I expect people to thank me for the life tip when I call them a ■■■■.
I just feel better for calling them a ■■■■.

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I thought that was only to players?

People like to get worked up. They always have and always will, we are just chemical puppets after all.

Dopamine Puppets - Scott Adams

Here’s a funny article by David Wong of Cracked that talks about the dopamine high we sometimes get from outrage. The gist of it is that the brain gets some sort of chemical payoff from outrage, and we seek it when we’re otherwise bored with life. Politics serves up lots of outrage opportunities. That’s why we are drawn to it – for the high.

We rationalise that we are fighting the good fight and making the world better. But mostly it just feels good to get worked up about issues and share the experience with like-minded dopamine addicts.

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thinks I should probably read the link

minutes later…

you should really trust your first instincts


You might be onto something G- I agree with others that plenty of people really enjoy a whinge. However, I reckon there is another force at play here. It is so easy to deride any person making any kind of stand with a tag of self-interest. This becomes a kind of dead-weight conservatism. Taken to extremes, nothing then ever changes for the better. In fact, I find that bagging the outraged is often a way of dealing with guilt- ignore the issue they are raising, which is a bit uncomfortable, and focus on their possibly underhanded motives.