The emotional and intellectual benefits of travel are unparalleled; research has found that those who have traversed the globe are more creative, open-minded, and cognitively flexible than their domestic counterparts. But according to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, avid travelers can also experience something called moral relativity, or the idea that moral judgment is dependent upon a particular standpoint.
"The research tests the idea that, in inducing cognitive flexibility (a positive outcome of travel), travel also might promote moral flexibility," which increases the likelihood of engaging in immoral behavior, writes Psychology Today of the findings. Researchers tested the link between international travel and immoral behavior, using longitudinal, correlational, and experimental approaches as well as examining their data from different cultural perspectives.
"International travel introduces you to new people, has the magical allure of the unknown and unusual, and could free you from the usual felt constraints of your everyday world," they write of the research. "Such dynamics might lend themselves toward moral leniency and an openness towards an affair."
The team does acknowledge the difference between a minor transgression such as cheating on a game and something more severe like cheating on a romantic partner. Researchers point out that the study merely draws a tenuous connection between the two behaviors, elaborating that more research on romantic infidelity is needed to draw any definite conclusions.
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