Managerial environment-related decisions can be taken in situ or remotely. We discuss theoretically why and how this seemingly irrelevant factor, i.e., the distance between the place of decision and the place where it is applied, affects the moral judgment by external third parties. We mobilize the out-group bias and the construal level theory to predict that distant decisions will be judged more severely than close equivalent ones. Using an experimental survey, we test whether an identical decision regarding an environmental wrongdoing is judged differently when observers are informed that the decision has been taken in situ or remotely. The findings support that the distance between decision centers and application places matters. An increase in spatial distance leads to a more severe judgment of an otherwise identical decision. We draw several policy and managerial applications and suggest the existence of a liability of distance in the moral domain.
The Effect of Distance on the Moral Judgment of Environmental Wrongdoings
4 July 2022