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Who makes utilitarian judgments? The influences of emotions on utilitarian judgments

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Listed:
  • So Young Choe
  • Kyung-Hwan Min

Abstract

Recent research has emphasized emotion's role in non-utilitarian judgments, but has not focused much on characteristics of subjects contributing to those judgments. The present article relates utilitarian judgment to individual disposition to experience various emotions. Study 1 first investigated the relationship among state emotions and utilitarian judgment. Diverse emotions were elicited during judgment: guilt, sadness, disgust, empathy, anger, and anxiety, etc. Using psychological scales, Study 2 found that trait emotions predict the extent of utilitarian judgments, especially trait anger, trait disgust, and trait empathy. Unlike previous research that designated emotions only as factors mitigating utilitarian judgment, this research shows that trait anger correlates positively with utilitarian judgment. On the other hand, disgust and empathy correlated negatively. Guilt and shame---though previous research argued that their absence increased utilitarian judgment---appear unrelated to the extent of utilitarian judgment. These results suggest that people's emotional dispositions can affect their judgment. This finding might contribute to untangling the complex mechanisms of utilitarian judgments.

Suggested Citation

  • So Young Choe & Kyung-Hwan Min, 2011. "Who makes utilitarian judgments? The influences of emotions on utilitarian judgments," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 6(7), pages 580-592, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:6:y:2011:i:7:p:580-592
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