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Justice sensitivity is undergirded by separate heritable motivations to be morally principled and opportunistic

Eftedal, Nikolai Haahjem, Kleppestø, Thomas Haarklau, Czajkowski, Nikolai Olavi, Sheehy-Skeffington, Jennifer ORCID: 0000-0003-0372-4867, Røysamb, Espen, Vassend, Olav, Ystrom, Eivind and Thomsen, Lotte (2022) Justice sensitivity is undergirded by separate heritable motivations to be morally principled and opportunistic. Scientific Reports, 12 (1). ISSN 2045-2322

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Identification Number: 10.1038/s41598-022-09253-2


Injustice typically involves some people benefitting at the expense of others. An opportunist might then be selectively motivated to amend only the injustice that is harmful to them, while someone more principled would respond consistently regardless of whether they stand to gain or lose. Here, we disentangle such principled and opportunistic motives towards injustice. With a sample of 312 monozygotic- and 298 dizygotic twin pairs (N = 1220), we measured people’s propensity to perceive injustice as victims, observers, beneficiaries, and perpetrators of injustice, using the Justice Sensitivity scale. With a biometric approach to factor analysis, that provides increased stringency in inferring latent psychological traits, we find evidence for two substantially heritable factors explaining correlations between Justice Sensitivity facets. We interpret these factors as principled justice sensitivity (h2 = 0.45) leading to increased sensitivity to injustices of all categories, and opportunistic justice sensitivity (h2 = 0.69) associated with increased sensitivity to being a victim and a decreased propensity to see oneself as a perpetrator. These novel latent constructs share genetic substrate with psychological characteristics that sustain broad coordination strategies that capture the dynamic tension between honest cooperation versus dominance and defection, namely altruism, interpersonal trust, agreeableness, Social Dominance Orientation and opposition to immigration and foreign aid.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
K Law > K Law (General)
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2022 15:18
Last Modified: 24 May 2024 04:06

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