Should You Sacrifice Your Constituents? Moral Dilemmas and the Evaluations of Politicians

GT 6.7 Emociones y comportamiento político

Enrique Hernández Pérez (Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona)
Sesión 1
Día: jueves,21 de septiembre de 2017
Hora: 11:00 a 13:00
Lugar: Aula 1.1.

Contravening moral principles might sometimes be the most effective way for politicians to handle political crises and maximize aggregate welfare. In some situations, politicians must decide between adopting a utilitarian decision (a decision that, even if it might contravene moral principles, leads to the maximization of aggregate welfare) or a deontological decision (a decision guided by the idea that there are moral standards that should never be violated, even if violating them would lead to a maximization of aggregate welfare). In this paper I analyze ––through an original experiment embedded in a survey with 1000 respondents–– to what extent adopting a utilitarian or deontological political decision affects the perceived trustworthiness and competence of a politician that adopts such decision. Moreover, since gender stereotypes might bias how citizens evaluate politicians, the second goal of this paper is to assess whether the impact of taking a utilitarian or deontological decision on the perceived trustworthiness and competence of a politician depends on the gender of the politician adopting the decision. The survey experiment used to analyze these questions is based on a sacrificial moral dilemma applied to a political crisis. Specifically, I examine respondents’ evaluations of a fictitious politician that in the context of a terrorist threat makes either a utilitarian judgement and decision (it is better to save 50 people, even if it involves sacrificing 10 innocent people) or a deontological judgement and decision (killing 10 innocent people is just morally wrong, even if it saves 50 people).

Palabras clave: Moral dilemmas, Trust, Politcal Attitudes