Subjects, who thought they were testing earphones, listened to hypothetical scenarios relating to overcharging, nepotistic decisions, and the rules of a financial game.
Those who were asked to listen with their eyes closed judged the scenarios as more unethical and were fairer in the financial game. A similar effect was found with those who had their eyes open if they were specifically asked to visualise the scenarios as vividly as possible.
The researchers think that we simulate scenarios more vividly when we have our eyes closed which triggers more intense emotions.
To test this in a further experiment where the subjects were specifically asked to visualise a situation as vividly as possible there was no difference between the eyes open and eyes closed groups.
There was no evidence that closed eyed participants paid more attention. The main difference appeared to be that the eyes-closed subjects experienced more negative, guilt-based emotions.
The authors think that; ” As a result … people may be more sensitive to the ethical nature of their own and others’ decisions, and perhaps behave more honestly as a result”.
So closing your eyes helps you to simulate the decision you want to make more extensively and experience its emotional components more vividly. In turn that may make you more sensitive to the ethics involved in your decision and keep you more honest. Perhaps that’s why the statue of Justice is blindfolded?
I wonder what results you would get with blind subjects? Are blind people more honest than sighted people?
FYI Moral judgements are open to a number of influences as set out in my previous post.