Discordant benevolence: How and why people help others in the face of conflicting values

Sarah K. Cowan, Tricia C. Bruce, Brea L. Perry, Bridget Ritz, Stuart Perrett, Elizabeth M. Anderson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    What happens when a request for help from friends or family members invokes conflicting values? In answering this question, we integrate and extend two literatures: support provision within social networks and moral decision-making. We examine the willingness of Americans who deem abortion immoral to help a close friend or family member seeking one. Using data from the General Social Survey and 74 in-depth interviews from the National Abortion Attitudes Study, we find that a substantial minority of Americans morally opposed to abortion would enact what we call discordant benevolence: providing help when doing so conflicts with personal values. People negotiate discordant benevolence by discriminating among types of help and by exercising commiseration, exemption, or discretion. This endeavor reveals both how personal values affect social support processes and how the nature of interaction shapes outcomes of moral decision-making.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article numbereabj5851
    JournalScience Advances
    Issue number7
    StatePublished - Feb 2022

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General


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