Are morally motivated decision makers insensitive to the consequences of their choices? Research report

Daniel M. Bartels*, Douglas L. Medin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations

Abstract

Is morally motivated decision making different from other kinds of decision making? There is evidence that when people have sacred or protected values (PVs), they reject trade-offs for secular values (e.g., "You can't put a price on a human life") and tend to employ deontological rather than consequentialist decision principles. People motivated by PVs appear to show quantity insensitivity. That is, in trade-off situations, they are less sensitive to the consequences of their choices than are people without PVs. The current study examined the relation between PVs and quantity insensitivity using two methods of preference assessment: In one design, previous results were replicated; in a second, PVs were related to increased quantity sensitivity. These and other findings call into question important presumed properties of PVs, suggesting that how PVs affect willingness to make trade-offs depends on where attention is focused, a factor that varies substantially across contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-28
Number of pages5
JournalPsychological Science
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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