February 26, 2015
We all know it: Organic food might be good for you (maybe), but people who prattle on about how healthy they are and how everyone should eat organic make you want to punch an infant. It turns out this isn’t just anecdotally true, but science has known this since 2012. 62 participants were shown images of either organic, comfort or control foods. They were then asked to rate a series of moral transgressions (cousins fucking, politicians taking bribes, etc). Finally, they were told that another department needed volunteers for a study, and if they participated they would get nothing in return. The results?
After viewing a few organic foods, comfort foods or control foods, participants who were exposed to organic foods volunteered significantly less time to help a needy stranger, and they judged moral transgressions significantly harsher than those who viewed non-organic foods.
Yep, even just SEEING organic food makes you an asshole. The scientists believe that it’s because having their moral choices affirmed (“I eat healthy, and this proves it”) make them less altruistic. Basically, when people think they have their shit together, they have less empathy for people who don’t.
This is not unique. Similarly “healthy” or “socially responsible” behaviors have the same effect. Recycling, for instance, leads people to feel so good about themselves that they believe they’ve “earned” the right to be assholes in other parts of life. another study even found that people were more likely to cheat and steal after purchasing “green” products versus conventional ones.
The whole study is here if you want to read the whole thing. I did, because reading research that confirms my biases against people I don’t like literally gives me an erection.