International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 27, Issue 1, Spring 2013

Matthew Gildersleeve
Pages 113-130

Trading Accuracy or Affiliation for Bad Faith in Social Influence Experimental Psychology

Currently there is an unattached link between the study of social influence in experimental psychology and bad faith in the existential philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre. The methods of psychology and philosophy differ significantly and can be integrated into a unified whole to provide enhanced insight into a topic of investigation compared to what can be achieved separately in each of these disciplines. The goal of this paper is to review the social influence literature with the aim of expositing, integrating and synthesising the findings with Sartre’s analysis of bad faith and authenticity. As a result, this paper aims to uncover the scientific findings that provide clarification to the findings of bad faith in Sartre’s existential philosophy. Precisely, this paper will provide concrete and descriptive empirical examples of the experimental causes and conditions that appear to be identified by participants as a reason to act in bad faith. Specifically, this paper provides evidence that bad faith appears to arise when an individual believes she should be accurate or affiliated with the group. An analysis of the concepts that are necessary to understand bad faith will also be reviewed to uncover the arguments that provide clarification to understanding conformity found in the social influence literature. This paper will benefit both psychologists and philosophers by bridging these two fields of investigation. Further work with the integration of these findings into existential psychotherapy is encouraged and described throughout.