, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 97–103 | Cite as

Individual Differences in Moral Behaviour: A Role for Response to Risk and Uncertainty?

  • Colin J. Palmer
  • Bryan Paton
  • Trung T. Ngo
  • Richard H. Thomson
  • Jakob Hohwy
  • Steven M. Miller
Original Paper


Investigation of neural and cognitive processes underlying individual variation in moral preferences is underway, with notable similarities emerging between moral- and risk-based decision-making. Here we specifically assessed moral distributive justice preferences and non-moral financial gambling preferences in the same individuals, and report an association between these seemingly disparate forms of decision-making. Moreover, we find this association between distributive justice and risky decision-making exists primarily when the latter is assessed with the Iowa Gambling Task. These findings are consistent with neuroimaging studies of brain function during moral and risky decision-making. This research also constitutes the first replication of a novel experimental measure of distributive justice decision-making, for which individual variation in performance was found. Further examination of decision-making processes across different contexts may lead to an improved understanding of the factors affecting moral behaviour.


Decision making Morality Distributive justice Risk Uncertainty Individual differences 

Supplementary material

12152_2012_9158_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (203 kb)
Online ResourceContains details of the slideshow employed in the distributive justice task and a description of the method for calculating the inequity-aversion parameter. (PDF 203 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin J. Palmer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bryan Paton
    • 1
    • 2
  • Trung T. Ngo
    • 1
    • 3
  • Richard H. Thomson
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jakob Hohwy
    • 2
  • Steven M. Miller
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Perceptual and Clinical Neuroscience Group, School of Psychology & PsychiatryMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Monash Philosophy & Cognition Lab, Philosophy Department, School of Philosophical, Historical and International StudiesMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research CentreAlfred Hospital and Monash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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