Our Moral Judgments Affect Our Perception of COVID Risk

Two new studies showcase a tendency on full display during the COVID-19 pandemic: People perceive as less risky the activities they condone or see as important and more risky those they do not, even if the logistics—and actual risk—of the two activities are similar. In other words, “risk judgments are sensitive to factors unrelated to the objective risks of infection,” as study authors Cailin O’Connor, [UCI associate professor], Daniel P. Relihan, [UCI graduate student], Ashley Thomas, Peter H. Ditto, [UCI professor], Kyle Stanford, [UCI professor], and James O. Weatherall, [UCI professor], write in a draft paper on their research. “In particular, activities that are morally justified are perceived as safer while those that might subject people to blame, or culpability, are seen as riskier.”