Two million euro ERC grant for Caspar Chorus’ modelling moral decision making proposal

News - 05 December 2016

Moral decision making

Discrete choice theory provides a mathematically rigorous framework to analyse and predict choice behaviour. While many of the theory’s key developments originate from the domain of transportation (mobility, travel behaviour), it is now widely used throughout the social sciences.

The theory has a blind spot for moral choice behaviour. It was designed to analyse situations where people make choices that are optimal given their consumer preferences, rather than situations where people attempt to make choices that are right, given their moral preferences. This neglect of the morality of choice is striking, in light of the fact that many of the most important choices people make, have a moral dimension.

Research programme

The research programme will produce a suite of new mathematical representations of choice behaviour (i.e., choice models), which are designed to capture the decision rules and decision weights that determine how individuals behave in moral choice situations. In these models, particular emphasis is given to heterogeneity in moral decision rules and to the role of social influences. Models will be estimated and validated using data obtained through a series of interviews, surveys and choice experiments.

Empirical analyses will take place in the context of moral choice situations concerning i) co-operative road using and ii) unsafe driving practices. Estimation results will be used as input for agent based models, to identify how social interaction processes lead to the emergence, persistence or dissolution of moral (traffic) equilibria at larger spatio-temporal scales. Findings are expected to apply well beyond the Transportation domain.

About ERC

The European Research Council supports frontier research, cross disciplinary proposals and pioneering ideas in new and emerging fields which introduce unconventional and innovative approaches. The ERC's mission is to encourage the highest quality research in Europe through competitive funding and to support investigator-driven frontier research across all fields of research, on the basis of scientific excellence.