Jambon and Smetana (2012)
|Jambon and Smetana (2012)|
|Title:||College students' moral evaluations of illegal music downloading|
|Author(s):||Jambon, M. M., Smetana, J. G.|
|Citation:||Jambon, M. M. & Smetana, J. G. (2012). College students' moral evaluations of illegal music downloading. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 33, 31-39.|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||Online survey in four parts, distributed to 188 US college students (M.age = 19.80 years).|
|Data Type:||Primary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
Although unauthorised music downloading is illegal, a majority of college students have downloaded music for free online. Evaluations of illegal music downloading and their association with downloading behaviour were examined using social domain theory in a sample of 188 ethnically diverse college students (M.age = 19.80 years, SD = 1.36, 56% female). All students treated prototypical moral events as moral on a domain classification task. Students treated illegal downloading as a complex moral issue and, less frequently, as a personal issue (but rarely as a conventional issue of law or authority); judgments varied when different concerns regarding the fair price of music and the structure of the music industry were made salient. Greater discrepancies between the actual price of music and what students viewed to be fair were associated with past illegal downloading, while a greater focus on downloading as stealing was associated with abstaining from downloading.
Main Results of the Study
The main results reported by this study:
- Students treat illegal downloading as a complex issue entailing conflicts between competing claims. Manipulations in information about the nature of the music industry and the price of music were systematically associated with variations in judgments, and moral beliefs were uniquely associated with past illegal downloading over and above the extent to which individuals viewed music as important in their lives.
- The ability to distinguish between prototypical moral, conventional, personal, and prudential events did not differ between students who had and had not illegally downloaded, casting doubt on the claim that youth who engage in illegal music downloading are more ethically and morally deficient.
- The results of the study suggest that individuals are concerned with balancing the need to pay for music with their own rights as consumers. As reflected in their fair price ratings, the vast majority of participants thought that the current price of music was unfairly high. This was mirrored in their acceptability judgments as well: illegal downloading was judged significantly more wrong when cost was removed as a concern. Rather than reflecting purely pragmatic or economic concerns, these responses also revealed a decidedly moral orientation.
- Nearly all participants (95%) believed that music should cost at least something: challenging the common perception that youth today do not believe in having to pay for music.
- Longitudinal research would be useful to determine how involvement in illegal downloading influences one's interpretations of the act over time.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
Policy implications reported by the study:
- Recent campaigns aimed at convincing the public that file-sharing is equivalent to more traditional forms of theft may have failed because, for many students, illegal downloading may be viewed as combating what they see as an unjust system that is biased against both consumers and musicians.
- Attempts to curb illegal downloading behaviours must take into account the pressing interests that are salient to those involved. Young college students do have intact moral judgment abilities, and they do care about the morality of downloading. However, the rights of the consumers and artists, and not the record companies, seem to be of most concern.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:||University students|
|Period of material under study:||Not stated|