Looking for an excuse the next time you get caught doing something unethical? If you live in a highly polluted city, you may be in luck.
New research offers evidence that air pollution inspires unethical behavior, ranging from low-stakes cheating to criminal activity. It reports this is likely due to polluted air increasing personal anxiety, which can throw people’s moral compasses out of whack.
“This research reveals that air pollution may have potential ethical costs that go beyond its well-known toll on health and the environment,” lead author Jackson Lu of Columbia Business School said in announcing the results. “Our findings suggest that air pollution not only corrupts people’s health, but can contaminate their morality.”
Evidence of a link between pollution and crime has been growing for several years. A 2015 study found violent crimes were 2.2 percent higher in neighborhoods downwind of air pollution. Another released in December linked higher levels of particulate matter with higher rates of juvenile delinquency.
Read the whole story: Pacific Standard