Concept Creepers: Who Holds Broader Concepts of Harm?

Haslam, N. (University of Melbourne), McGrath, M. (University of Melbourne), Murphy, S., (University of Melbourne), Randall-Dzerdz, K. (University of Melbourne), Wheeler, M., (University of Melbourne)

‘Concept creep’ is the progressive broadening of harm-related concepts over recent decades. This historical phenomenon has been theorised to have mixed blessings, reflecting a process of increasing moral sensitivity but also potentially contributing to rising fragility and political conflict. However, there has been no examination of whether concept creep has predominantly positive or negative implications. Taking an individual difference approach, two studies examined predictors of holding broader, more inclusive subjective definitions of harm-related concepts (i.e., trauma, bullying, abuse, prejudice). Findings supported the mixed blessings view: although most predictors of concept breadth implicated prosocial traits such as empathy, it was also associated with entitlement and vulnerability.


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Attitudes and Motivation