Thoughtless or Careless
¶Are bullies amoral or are they simply cruel? That is to say, do they bully others because they don’t know the difference between right and wrong, or simply because they don’t care about other people’s feelings? Gianluca Gini, Tiziana Pozzoli and Marc Hauser studied this question for the Journal Personality and Individual Differences. They studied 719 children between the ages of 9 and 13 and found that those who engaged in bullying had advanced moral competence. They could make sophisticated distinctions between moral and immoral conduct. They scored low on measures of compassion, though. This reinforces a growing body of research that suggests knowing right from wrong is not necessarily connected to behaving rightly or wrongly. Moral lectures don’t work well, but telling people stories designed to arouse compassion might.