Uncertainty Motivates Morality: Evidence and Theory
70 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2021 Last revised: 24 Mar 2021
Date Written: March 1, 2021
Uncertainty motivates a wide range of human behavior, as individuals are disposed to pursue a feeling of certainty. We propose that uncertainty motivates morality, and test the hypothesis by examining moral decisions when individuals face an uncertain situation compared with all degenerate certain situations. We find that uncertainty drives individuals to share more in a dictator game experiment and lie less in a dice game experiment. As standard models of choice under uncertainty cannot accommodate these observations, we propose a theoretical framework whereby individuals perceive a connection between the morality of their behavior and the outcome resulting from uncertainty.
Keywords: uncertainty, moral behavior, social preference, lying aversion, experiment
JEL Classification: C91, D81, D91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation