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Influence of uncertainty on framed decision-making with moral dilemma

Abstract : In cases of impending natural disasters, most events are uncertain and emotionally relevant, both critical factors for decision-making. Moreover, for exposed individuals, the sensitivity to the framing of the consequences (gain or loss) and the moral judgments they have to perform (e.g., evacuate or help an injured person) constitute two central effects that have never been examined in the same context of decision-making. In a framed decision-making task with moral dilemma, we investigated whether uncertainty (i.e., unpredictably of events) and a threatening context would influence the framing effect (actions framed in loss are avoided in comparison to the ones framed in gain) and the personal intention effect (unintentional actions are more morally acceptable in comparison to intentional actions) on the perceived moral acceptability of taking action. Considering the impact of uncertainty and fear on the processes underlying these effects, we assumed that these emotions would lead to the negation of the two effects. Our results indicate that the exposure to uncertain events leads to the negation of the framing effect, but does not influence the moral acceptability and the effect of personal intention. We discuss our results in the light of dual-process models (i.e. systematic vs. heuristic), appraisal theories, and neurocognitive aspects. These elements highlight the importance of providing solutions to cope with uncertainty, both for scientists and local populations exposed to natural hazards.
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Gaëtan Merlhiot, Martial Mermillod, Jean-Luc Le Pennec, Frédéric Dutheil, Laurie Mondillon. Influence of uncertainty on framed decision-making with moral dilemma. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2018, 13 (5), ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0197923⟩. ⟨hal-01808880⟩

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