The Effect of Probability Anchors in Moral Decision Making


The role of probabilistic reasoning in moral decision making has seen relatively little research, despite having potentially profound consequences for our models of moral cognition. To rectify this, two experiments were undertaken in which participants were presented with moral dilemmas with additional information designed to anchor judgements about how likely the dilemma’s outcomes were. It was found that these anchoring values significantly altered how permissible the dilemmas were found when they were presented both explicitly and implicitly. This was the case even for dilemmas typically seen as eliciting deontological judgements. Implications of this finding for cognitive models of moral decision making are discussed.

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