The illusion of moral decline

Anecdotal evidence indicates that people believe that morality is declining. A series of studies show that people in at least 60 nations around the world believe that morality is declining, that they have believed this for at least 70 years and that they attribute this decline both to the decreasing morality of individuals as they age and to the decreasing morality of successive generations.

A recent study shows that people’s reports of the morality of their contemporaries have not declined over time, suggesting that the perception of moral decline is an illusion. This illusion has implications for research on the misallocation of scarce resources, the underuse of social support and social influence.

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