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The role of protected values in individual and group decision making

English title The role of protected values in individual and group decision making
Applicant Tanner Carmen
Number 120191
Funding scheme SNSF Professorships
Research institution Psychologisches Institut Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.10.2008 - 30.09.2010
Approved amount 737'993.00
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Keywords (8)

Values; Decision Making; Group Decision Making; Protected Values; Sacred Values; Negotiation; Ethics; Morality

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
An important conclusion of decision-making research is that people violate the normative ideals proposed by economic models. One form of violation, about which there have been converging observations in recent years, is that people are often extremely reluctant to make certain trade-offs. Terms such as "protected values" or "sacred values" have been developed in recent years to express the idea that certain values are seen as absolute and thus are protected from trade-offs with other values because they tap into moral or ethical principles. The study of the phenomenon of protected values (PV) is of theoretical importance and is also clearly relevant in applied settings. The overarching goal of this research program is designed to clarify the interplay of protected values in individual processes and group decision making. In the last few years, we have made majors steps in developing an instrument to measure PVs, and we have also produced several intriguing findings that challenge the generalized assumption that PVs have a negative impact on individual and group processes. We have made major steps in identifying which topics are likely to bring PVs into play and in developing an instrument to measure PVs. In terms of how PVs affect individual processes, our studies have led to the following conclusions: (1) We have provided evidence that PVs can help to facilitate decisions, despite the fact that decisions tapping into such values trigger negative emotions. (2) People endorsing PVs appear to be less sensitive to situational influences (such as incentives, framing effects), which is indicative of the resistance or stability of such values. (3) It is wrong and overly simplified to assume that people with PVs process information generally in a non-deliberative, irrational manner. Furthermore, we have made major steps in linking PVs with group decision-making (i.e., negotiations). (4) Our studies confirmed that people with PVs are hard bargainers, unwilling to make concessions on the issues that are associated with PVs. (5) However, inconsistent with previous literature, we cannot confirm that people with PVs necessarily block and hinder negotiations. On the contrary, we found that people with PVs were better able to contribute to better negotiation outcomes. This following research project will be designed to continue and to extent the aim of the original program. It will serve three purposes: First, to improve our understanding of how PVs affect individual processes and decision making, we wish to examine more thoroughly a) when and why people with PV engage in more or less information processing, and in what sense this information processing serves as value protection mechanisms; b) how people committed to PVs deal with highly conflicting tasks and how emotional and cognitive processes interact, and b) how PVs serve a motivational function. Second, in order to improve our knowledge of how PVs affect negotiations, we wish a) to replicate and examine the generalizations of our previous findings (e.g., through cross-cultural comparisons); and b) to examine more thoroughly effects of PVs on interpersonal perception and interactions in negotiations. And third, in order to broaden the range of contexts within which this research could be situated, we wish to examine how PVs are related to ethical leadership and ethical decision making.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

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Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
102845 The role of protected values in individual and group decision making 01.10.2004 SNSF Professorships

Abstract

An important conclusion of decision-making research is that people violate the normative ideals proposed by economic models. One form of violation, about which there have been converging observations in recent years, is that people are often extremely reluctant to make certain trade-offs. Terms such as "protected values" or "sacred values" have been developed in recent years to express the idea that certain values are seen as absolute and thus are protected from trade-offs with other values because they tap into moral or ethical principles. The study of the phenomenon of protected values (PV) is of theoretical importance and is also clearly relevant in applied settings. The overarching goal of this research program is designed to clarify the interplay of protected values in individual processes and group decision making. In the last few years, we have made majors steps in developing an instrument to measure PVs, and we have also produced several intriguing findings that challenge the generalized assumption that PVs have a negative impact on individual and group processes. We have made major steps in identifying which topics are likely to bring PVs into play and in developing an instrument to measure PVs. In terms of how PVs affect individual processes, our studies have led to the following conclusions: (1) We have provided evidence that PVs can help to facilitate decisions, despite the fact that decisions tapping into such values trigger negative emotions. (2) People endorsing PVs appear to be less sensitive to situational influences (such as incentives, framing effects), which is indicative of the resistance or stability of such values. (3) It is wrong and overly simplified to assume that people with PVs process information generally in a non-deliberative, irrational manner. Furthermore, we have made major steps in linking PVs with group decision-making (i.e., negotiations). (4) Our studies confirmed that people with PVs are hard bargainers, unwilling to make concessions on the issues that are associated with PVs. (5) However, inconsistent with previous literature, we cannot confirm that people with PVs necessarily block and hinder negotiations. On the contrary, we found that people with PVs were better able to contribute to better negotiation outcomes.This following research project will be designed to continue and to extent the aim of the original program. It will serve three purposes: First, to improve our understanding of how PVs affect individual processes and decision making, we wish to examine more thoroughly a) when and why people with PV engage in more or less information processing, and in what sense this information processing serves as value protection mechanisms; b) how people committed to PVs deal with highly conflicting tasks and how emotional and cognitive processes interact, and b) how PVs serve a motivational function. Second, in order to improve our knowledge of how PVs affect negotiations, we wish a) to replicate and examine the generalizations of our previous findings (e.g., through cross-cultural comparisons); and b) to examine more thoroughly effects of PVs on interpersonal perception and interactions in negotiations. And third, in order to broaden the range of contexts within which this research could be situated, we wish to examine how PVs are related to ethical leadership and ethical decision making.
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