Above the Scam: Moral Elevation Reduces Gullibility

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Consumers are increasingly exposed to scams and questionable marketing practices. The current work examines how consumers’ emotional states influence their gullibility (a belief or compliance with a request that most people would consider naïve). Across four studies, we show that the emotional experience of moral elevation reduces susceptibility to believe dubious claims or comply with suspicious requests. While past research showed that moral elevation enhances nurturance behavior (and support of a requester), the current work suggests that elevation may also play a protective function (that is, reduce gullibility). We show that decreased trust in a persuasion agent mediates the influence of elevation on gullibility, and demonstrate this effect in the context of health and financial domains.