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The Intention-Outcome Asymmetry Effect: How Incongruent Intentions and Outcomes Influence Judgments of Responsibility and Causality

Sarin, A; Lagnado, DA; Burgess, PW; (2017) The Intention-Outcome Asymmetry Effect: How Incongruent Intentions and Outcomes Influence Judgments of Responsibility and Causality. Experimental Psychology , 64 (2) pp. 124-141. 10.1027/1618-3169/a000359. Green open access

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Abstract

Knowledge of intention and outcome is integral to making judgments of responsibility, blame, and causality. Yet, little is known about the effect of conflicting intentions and outcomes on these judgments. In a series of four experiments, we combine good and bad intentions with positive and negative outcomes, presenting these through everyday moral scenarios. Our results demonstrate an asymmetry in responsibility, causality, and blame judgments for the two incongruent conditions: well-intentioned agents are regarded more morally and causally responsible for negative outcomes than ill-intentioned agents are held for positive outcomes. This novel effect of an intention-outcome asymmetry identifies an unexplored aspect of moral judgment and is partially explained by extra inferences that participants make about the actions of the moral agent.

Type: Article
Title: The Intention-Outcome Asymmetry Effect: How Incongruent Intentions and Outcomes Influence Judgments of Responsibility and Causality
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1027/1618-3169/a000359
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1027/1618-3169/a000359
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: intention, outcome, responsibility, causality, blame-praise, moral judgments
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1559617
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