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When Favoritism Seems Right: The Cultural and Moral Drivers of Situational Favoritism

  • Im, Hohjin
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2019
eScholarship - University of California
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Favoritism has traditionally been examined from the lens of a target-specific typology. However, recent studies of favoritism suggest that situations largely influence whether people engage in favoritism or not. To examine whether situational cues also form a typology of favoritism, 10 scenarios were used to empirically test the target-specific typology and derive a new situational typology of favoritism. Results reveal four distinct classes of response patterns: 1) Total Utilitarianism, 2) Do No Harm, 3) Consequential Favoritism, and 4) High Favoritism. To explain the four classes of response patterns, three dimensions were introduced to reflect the 1) seriousness of harm, 2) directness of harm, and 3) number of individuals involved. Do No Harm varied along the directness dimension, Consequential Favoritism varied along the seriousness dimension, and Total Utilitarianism varied along both the seriousness and multitude dimensions. High Favoritism showed high tendency for favoritism regardless of the dimensions. The pattern of responses among the classes did not differ based on the target of the beneficiary (e.g., nepotism and cronyism). Multinomial logistic regression results show various cultural and individual values predict class membership. Discussion of predictors and implications for pattern of responses to situational favoritism are given.

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