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Taboos and conflicts in decision making: sacred values, decision difficulty, and emotions


Hanselmann, M; Tanner, C (2008). Taboos and conflicts in decision making: sacred values, decision difficulty, and emotions. Judgment and Decision Making, 3(1):51-63.

Abstract

Previous studies suggest that choices are perceived as difficult as well as negatively emotion-laden when they tap into moral considerations. However, we propose that the involvement of moral issues and values can also facilitate decisions because people often insistently preclude them from trade-offs with other values. Because such values are treated as inviolable and absolute, they are called sacred values (e.g., Tetlock et al., 2000). Two experiments examined the influence of sacred values (measured by a recent self-report scale) and variation of trade-off type (taboo, tragic, routine trade-offs) on perceived decision difficulty and negative emotions. As hypothesized, decision difficulty and negative emotions show diverging patterns as a function of sacred values and trade-off types. When the decision situation involved two conflicting sacred values (i.e., tragic trade-off), people perceived the decision task as emotionally stressful and difficult. However, when the decision situation was associated with only one sacred value (i.e., taboo trade-off), people perceived the task as more negatively emotion-laden, but as easier to solve, compared to a situation not involving sacred values (i.e., routine trade-off). These findings suggest that reliance on sacred values may work as a heuristic.

Previous studies suggest that choices are perceived as difficult as well as negatively emotion-laden when they tap into moral considerations. However, we propose that the involvement of moral issues and values can also facilitate decisions because people often insistently preclude them from trade-offs with other values. Because such values are treated as inviolable and absolute, they are called sacred values (e.g., Tetlock et al., 2000). Two experiments examined the influence of sacred values (measured by a recent self-report scale) and variation of trade-off type (taboo, tragic, routine trade-offs) on perceived decision difficulty and negative emotions. As hypothesized, decision difficulty and negative emotions show diverging patterns as a function of sacred values and trade-off types. When the decision situation involved two conflicting sacred values (i.e., tragic trade-off), people perceived the decision task as emotionally stressful and difficult. However, when the decision situation was associated with only one sacred value (i.e., taboo trade-off), people perceived the task as more negatively emotion-laden, but as easier to solve, compared to a situation not involving sacred values (i.e., routine trade-off). These findings suggest that reliance on sacred values may work as a heuristic.

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28 citations in Web of Science®
32 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:January 2008
Deposited On:27 Nov 2008 12:42
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:35
Publisher:Society for Judgment and Decision Making
ISSN:1930-2975
Official URL:http://journal.sjdm.org/bb5.pdf
Related URLs:http://journal.sjdm.org/ (Publisher)
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-5948

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