Perceived morality of direct versus indirect harm: Replications of the preference for indirect harm effect


  • Ignazio Ziano Grenoble Ecole de Management, Univ Grenoble Alpes ComUE
  • Yu Jie Wang
  • Sydney Susanto Sany
  • Long Ho Ngai ‎
  • Yuk Kwan Lau
  • Iban Kaur Bhattal‎
  • Pui Sin Keung
  • Yan To Wong
  • Wing Zhang Tong
  • Bo Ley Cheng
  • Cedar Chan
  • Gilad Feldman University of Hong Kong



direct harm, indirect harm, morality, pre-registered replication, preference for indirect harm


Royzman and Baron (2002) demonstrated that people prefer indirect harm to direct harm: they judge actions that produce harm as a by-product to be more moral than actions that produce harm directly. In two preregistered studies, we successfully replicated Study 2 of Royzman and Baron (2002) with a Hong Kong student sample (N = 46) and an online American Mechanical Turk sample (N = 314). We found con- sistent evidential support for the preference for indirect harm phenomenon (d = 0.46 [0.26, 0.65] to 0.47 [0.18, 0.75]), weaker than effects reported in the original findings of the target article (d = 0.70 [0.40, 0.99]). We also successfully replicated findings regarding reasons underlying a preference for indirect harm (di- rectness, intent, omission, probability of harm, and appearance of harm). All materials, data, and code are available at


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