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Title: Exploring the influence of mood on socio-economic decisions and moral judgement
Author: Cui, Yue
ISNI:       0000 0004 2741 3649
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2013
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People are usually confronted with an emotion/deliberation dilemma during the course of judgement and decision making, such that an emotional want is at odds with a reasoning- based should/need. Such dilemmas can occur at a social level and be related to others’ welfare. Meanwhile, experience and activities in everyday life can often induce certain mood in people. This means a decision maker may be in a certain mood when confronted with an other-regarding emotion/deliberation dilemma. However, the potential role of mood in judgement and decision making in other-regarding emotion/deliberation dilemmas has been largely unexplored. The purpose of the current thesis is to explore the influence of mood on judgement and decision making in other-regarding emotion/deliberation dilemmas, by looking at whether and how mood affects socio-economic decisions and moral judgement. Treating such emotion/deliberation dilemmas with a dual-process approach, and building on theories of affect that suggest an informational function of mood and mood’s effect on information processing strategy, we propose that mood can affect judgements and decisions in other-regarding emotion/deliberation dilemmas through its informational value. Theoretical and empirical research suggests that mood can influence processing strategy by providing information about the situation (“affect-as-information” approach; Schwarz & Clore, 2007). Positive mood signals that the present situation is non-problematic and in turn encourages the use of a heuristic, top-down, reflexive processing strategy; in contrast, negative mood signals that the present situation is problematic and encourages the use of a more systematic, bottom-up, reflective processing strategy (Clore et al., 2001; Schwarz, 2000, 2002; Schwarz & Clore, 2007). Based on the affect-as-information theorising, we hypothesised that, when confronted with other-regarding emotion/deliberation dilemmas, positive mood would give rise to emotionally compelled judgements and decisions, whereas negative mood would give rise to more cognitively controlled judgements and decisions. To test this idea, three studies were conducted using two experimental paradigms — one pertaining to socio-economic decisions and the other to moral judgement — both of which are assumed to incorporate an other-regarding emotion/deliberation dilemma. Study 1 examined the influence of negative mood on socio-economic decisions using a paradigm called the “mini-ultimatum game” in which the divergence between emotion- and reasoning-based decisions corresponds to that between outcome-focused and intention-considered decisions. Studies 2 and 3 examined influences of positive and negative mood on moral judgement using a moral dilemma paradigm, in which an emotion/deliberation dilemma is posited by the fact that deontological (or, non-utilitarian) choices are at odds with utilitarian choices. Results of Study 1 show that mood did not affect decisions in the mini-ultimatum game. A closer inspection of the behavioural economics literature suggests that this might be caused by a contextual extremity such that outcome plays a dominant role over intention in determining socio-economic decisions. Main results of Studies 2 and 3 indicate that mood may affect moral judgement by providing information about individual moral disposition; thus, whether negative/positive mood is associated with more reasoning-/emotion-based (i.e., utilitarian/non-utilitarian) judgements may be subject to individual moral inclination. Moreover, a pattern that is contrary to the initial thesis hypothesis was obtained from Studies 2 and 3, such that utilitarian judgements tended to increase with positive mood but decrease with negative mood. This suggests that mood may influence moral judgement in a different way from affecting the use of a certain processing strategy. Taken together, our findings, adding to the line of research of judgement and decision making, suggest that mood may affect judgements and decisions in other-regarding emotion/deliberation dilemmas through its informational value, and that its influence (or absence of influence) may be determined by interaction with contextual and dispositional factors. Our findings are discussed in relation to interplays between mood and contextual and dispositional factors, and to mood effects on willpower and on processing scope. They are also thought to have possible implications for legal decision making.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology