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Outcome effects, moral luck and the hindsight bias


Kneer, Markus; Skoczen, Izabela (2022). Outcome effects, moral luck and the hindsight bias. Cognition, 232:105258.

Abstract

In a series of ten preregistered experiments (N=2043), we investigate the effect of outcome valence on judgments of probability, negligence, and culpability – a phenomenon sometimes labelled moral (and legal) luck. We found that harmful outcomes, when contrasted with neutral outcomes, lead to increased perceived probability of harm ex post, and consequently to increased attribution of negligence and culpability. Rather than simply postulating a hindsight bias (as is common), we employ a variety of empirical means to demonstrate that the outcome-driven asymmetry across perceived probabilities constitutes a systematic cognitive distortion. We then explore three distinct strategies to alleviate the hindsight bias and its downstream effects on mens rea and culpability ascriptions. Not all are successful, but at least some prove promising. They should, we argue, be taken into consideration in criminal jurisprudence, where distortions due to the hindsight bias are likely considerable and deeply disconcerting.

Abstract

In a series of ten preregistered experiments (N=2043), we investigate the effect of outcome valence on judgments of probability, negligence, and culpability – a phenomenon sometimes labelled moral (and legal) luck. We found that harmful outcomes, when contrasted with neutral outcomes, lead to increased perceived probability of harm ex post, and consequently to increased attribution of negligence and culpability. Rather than simply postulating a hindsight bias (as is common), we employ a variety of empirical means to demonstrate that the outcome-driven asymmetry across perceived probabilities constitutes a systematic cognitive distortion. We then explore three distinct strategies to alleviate the hindsight bias and its downstream effects on mens rea and culpability ascriptions. Not all are successful, but at least some prove promising. They should, we argue, be taken into consideration in criminal jurisprudence, where distortions due to the hindsight bias are likely considerable and deeply disconcerting.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology and the Study of Religion > Center for Ethics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:170 Ethics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Hindsight bias, Moral judgment, Moral luck, Negligence, Outcome effect, Probability judgment
Language:English
Date:12 December 2022
Deposited On:03 Jan 2022 08:29
Last Modified:17 Jun 2024 03:34
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0010-0277
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2022.105258
PubMed ID:3651666
Other Identification Number:Pre-Print Version auf PsyArXiv.com: 10.31234/osf.io/k6fpa (DOI)
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDPZ00P1_179912
  • : Project TitleReading Guilty Minds
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)