Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Damned Either Way

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Damned Either Way

Article excerpt

THE SOURCE: "Want to Lose Friends? Make Tough Choices" by Tom Jacobs, in Miller-McCune News Blog, July 23, 2009.

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT KNEW from personal experience what it was like to be damned if you do and damned if you don't. "Do what you feel in your heart to be right,' she said, for "you'll be criticized anyway." New research suggests she had it right. Elected officials cannot win when they have to choose between bad alternatives.

Given a choice between awarding child custody to either of two equally rotten parents, a judge takes heat no matter what the decision, according to a study conducted by Justin Kruger and Laura M. Kressel of New York University and Jeremy Burrus of Columbia. After students read a summary of a court ease in which a judge, who ostensibly had no other choice, awarded custody to the parent who appeared to be the lesser evil, one group was informed of the actual outcome and the other was told the losing parent had won.

In both cases, the students evaluated the judge negatively. …

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