Would you rather die, right now, or live to a ripe old age – with everyone around you thinking you were a paedophile?
When faced with this question, many people choose death, according to psychology researchers.
People also choose to lose a hand rather than have a swastika tattooed on their forehead, according to researchers from Florida State University, the University of North Carolina and the University of Queensland.
The researchers reviewed multiple psychological studies – and found that people said they would endure physical harm rather than harm their reputations.
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To test the idea, the researchers told volunteers that a questionnaire they had just completed suggested they were racist – but they could keep the information quiet by putting their hands into a container of live forms.
A third of people were willing to do so.
The researchers write, ‘maintaining a moral reputation is one of people’s most important values.
‘ Two lab studies found that 30% of people fully submerged their hands in a pile of disgusting live worms, and 63% endured physical pain to prevent dissemination of information suggesting that they were racist.’