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Saturday, November 13, 2021

Moral behavior in games: A review and call for additional research

E. Clarkson
New Ideas in Psychology
Volume 64, January 2022, 100912


The current review has been completed with several specific aims. First, it seeks to acknowledge, and detail, a new and growing body of research, that associates moral judgments with behavior in social dilemmas and economic games. Second, it seeks to address how a study of moral behavior is advantaged over past research that exclusively measured morality by asking about moral judgment or belief. In an analysis of these advantages, it is argued that additional research, that associates moral judgments with behavior, is better equipped to answer debates within the field, such as whether sacrificial judgments do reflect a concern for the greater good and if utilitarianism (or other moral theories) are better suited to solve certain collective action problems (like tragedies of the commons). To this end, future researchers should use methods that require participants to make decisions with real-world behavioral consequences.


• Prior work has long investigated moral judgments in hypothetical scenarios.

• Arguments that debate the validity of this method are reviewed.

• New research is investigating the association between moral judgments and behavior.

• Future study should continue and broaden these investigations to new moral theories.