The Omissions Bias

The tendency to judge harmful actions as worse, or less moral, than equally harmful inactions.

Sam, a tennis player, would be facing a tough opponent the next day in a decisive match. He knows his opponent is allergic to a food substance. Suppose Sam recommends the food containing the allergen to hurt his opponent’s performance, or the opponent himself orders the allergenic food, and Sam says nothing. Most people judge Sam’s action of recommending the allergenic food as being more immoral than Sam’s inaction of not informing the opponent of the allergenic substance. Which stance would you take?