Apparently, Traveling to Another Country Alters Your Sense of Morality


Whether it is ordering an airport pint at 6:30 a.m. or breaking into the rooftop pool at 4:00 a.m., being on holiday helps us to loosen up and throw caution to the wind. But, according to a study, we might actually be naturally wired to behave like this.

The study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and reported by Science of Us suggests: "it's not just the language that makes a difference: simply being in a foreign country can change the way you think about right and wrong."

Researchers conducted eight separate experiments, all of which found a consistent link between time spent in a foreign country and a weakening of moral standards. One gave French high school students the chance to win an iPad at three points during their study abroad program by completing a puzzle. The puzzle was unsolvable but you were able to click "solved" without answering anything. Around 30 percent of students cheated in the first puzzle, before the study-abroad program had started. After they had actually been in a new country for a while that number rose significantly, to 46 percent after six months away and 48 percent after a year.

In another experiment, adult volunteers were asked about their traveling experiences then had to play a game designed to offer opportunities for cheating. Despite there being no material reward for cheating many did and interestingly there was a positive correlation between the amount of countries participants had visited and the amount they cheated in the game.


"As individuals are exposed to diverse cultures, their moral compass may lose some of its precision," the study concluded. In other words, being abroad increases your moral relativism and alters an objective sense of right and wrong.

We doubt it serves as a valid excuse for falling for someone's wife or trashing your hotel room.

FromEsquire UK

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Olivia Pym
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