Responsibility, guilt and decision under risk
Summary. In this paper, we hypothesize that individuals’ choices (risk-seeking/risk-aversion) depend on moral values, and in particular on how subjects evaluate themselves, as guilty or as victims of a wrong, rather than on the descriptions of the outcomes as given in the options and evaluated accordingly as gains or losses (framing effect). People who evaluate themselves as victims are expected to show a risk-seeking preference (context of innocence).
People who evaluate themselves as guilty, are expected to show a risk-averse preference (context of guilt). In our experiment the responses of 232 participants to a decision problem were compared in four different conditions involving two-story formats (innocence/guilt) and two-question-options formats (gain/loss). The results show that, regardless of the format of the question options, the story format appears to be an important determinant of individuals’ preferences.