To what extent are Italian people ready to excuse the mistakes made by their Government during the Covid-19 pandemic? Drawing on emotion intensity theory (EIT: J.W. Brehm), we predicted and found that the tendency to justify the wrong choices of the Italian Government (Governo Conte) followed a cubic function of reasons for not justifying those errors (avoidable economic losses, the deterrents). Those reasons were presented to participants as the estimated (experimentally and bogusly increased) percentage of economic losses (allegedly) caused by the Government through its wrong choices and politics. We first ascertained people’s commitment towards the Government and its choices, so to create two groups of committed vs. uncommitted participants. Subsequently, we randomly assigned participants (N = 233 Italian adults; median age = 27 years, range 18-68 years) to one of four experimental conditions of avoidable economic losses (percentage of losses unknown vs. low [5%] vs. moderate [42%] vs. high [89%]). The tendency to justify the Government’s wrong choices represented our main dependent measure (5 items; α = .93). At the end of this procedure, we regularly thanked and debriefed participants. As predicted, the responses of people scarcely vs. highly committed to the Government’s politics were dissociated, as testified to by the significant interaction between levels of commitment and deterrents (ANOVA: F[3, 225] = 3.08, p = .028, partial eta-squared = .039). Also as predicted, the tendency to justify the Italian Government was relatively low, and unaffected by deterrents (omnibus ANOVA: F[3, 158] = .61, p = 607), among uncommitted participants. By contrast, this tendency was comparatively higher for committed people (main effect of commitment: F[3, 225] = 39.06, p < .001) and, most importantly, it nicely mirrored EIT’s predicted cubic pattern of results (cubic term: F[1, 67] = 10.33, p = .002). Specifically, among committed people, the tendency to justify the wrong choices of the Government was strong in the control condition, significantly reduced (p = .002) when the communicated (bogus) economic losses were presented as relatively contained (5% = low deterrence), significantly intensified (p = .048) with increasing economic losses (42% = moderate deterrence), and eventually reduced (p = .006), again, in the face of very relevant economic losses (89% = strong deterrence). To the extent that the readiness to justify and excuse the mistakes of the Italian Government during the Covid-19 pandemic can be systematically altered among politically committed people (i.e., ironically the would-be supporters), we witness here an interesting paradox, exactly as predicted by EIT. The worse the mistake, the stronger the tendency to justify the Government and its wrong deeds, and vice versa. This will hold, however, up to the point in which any excuse is no longer tenable and/or justifiable because the mistakes become simply too evident and too big to warrant any further justification. In our view, these results nicely illustrate how EIT can go political, and be a source of inspiration for future researchers, professionals, and any other people interested both in science and politics.

Paradoxical justification of Government’s mistakes during the Covid-19 pandemic in Italy: Emotion Intensity Theory goes political / Contu, Federico; Sciara, Simona; Pantaleo, Giuseppe. - (2021). ((Intervento presentato al convegno 33rd Annual Convention of the American Psychological Society (APS) tenutosi a Virtually Hosted.

Paradoxical justification of Government’s mistakes during the Covid-19 pandemic in Italy: Emotion Intensity Theory goes political.

Federico Contu
;
2021

Abstract

To what extent are Italian people ready to excuse the mistakes made by their Government during the Covid-19 pandemic? Drawing on emotion intensity theory (EIT: J.W. Brehm), we predicted and found that the tendency to justify the wrong choices of the Italian Government (Governo Conte) followed a cubic function of reasons for not justifying those errors (avoidable economic losses, the deterrents). Those reasons were presented to participants as the estimated (experimentally and bogusly increased) percentage of economic losses (allegedly) caused by the Government through its wrong choices and politics. We first ascertained people’s commitment towards the Government and its choices, so to create two groups of committed vs. uncommitted participants. Subsequently, we randomly assigned participants (N = 233 Italian adults; median age = 27 years, range 18-68 years) to one of four experimental conditions of avoidable economic losses (percentage of losses unknown vs. low [5%] vs. moderate [42%] vs. high [89%]). The tendency to justify the Government’s wrong choices represented our main dependent measure (5 items; α = .93). At the end of this procedure, we regularly thanked and debriefed participants. As predicted, the responses of people scarcely vs. highly committed to the Government’s politics were dissociated, as testified to by the significant interaction between levels of commitment and deterrents (ANOVA: F[3, 225] = 3.08, p = .028, partial eta-squared = .039). Also as predicted, the tendency to justify the Italian Government was relatively low, and unaffected by deterrents (omnibus ANOVA: F[3, 158] = .61, p = 607), among uncommitted participants. By contrast, this tendency was comparatively higher for committed people (main effect of commitment: F[3, 225] = 39.06, p < .001) and, most importantly, it nicely mirrored EIT’s predicted cubic pattern of results (cubic term: F[1, 67] = 10.33, p = .002). Specifically, among committed people, the tendency to justify the wrong choices of the Government was strong in the control condition, significantly reduced (p = .002) when the communicated (bogus) economic losses were presented as relatively contained (5% = low deterrence), significantly intensified (p = .048) with increasing economic losses (42% = moderate deterrence), and eventually reduced (p = .006), again, in the face of very relevant economic losses (89% = strong deterrence). To the extent that the readiness to justify and excuse the mistakes of the Italian Government during the Covid-19 pandemic can be systematically altered among politically committed people (i.e., ironically the would-be supporters), we witness here an interesting paradox, exactly as predicted by EIT. The worse the mistake, the stronger the tendency to justify the Government and its wrong deeds, and vice versa. This will hold, however, up to the point in which any excuse is no longer tenable and/or justifiable because the mistakes become simply too evident and too big to warrant any further justification. In our view, these results nicely illustrate how EIT can go political, and be a source of inspiration for future researchers, professionals, and any other people interested both in science and politics.
File allegati a questo prodotto
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/1583053
 Attenzione

Attenzione! I dati visualizzati non sono stati sottoposti a validazione da parte dell'ateneo

Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact