Unstable values in lifesaving decisions
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Classical economic approaches to the study of preferences and risky choices assume that human preferences are stable and rational. However, subsequent empirical research has demonstrated that preferences are often constructed and that choices are influenced by a variety of factors that frequently deviate from normative decision-making models. While many of these studies have confirmed that preferences depend on presentation formats, response modes, processing modes, mood states, attitudes, and a host of other moderators (e.g., Lichtenstein and Slovic, 2006), it should be noted that preferences are also a manifestation of a decisionmaker’s inherent values. While core values are often seen as relatively stable (Malle and Dickert, 2007), tradeoffs among those values are often ill-defined, setting the stage for preference reversals induced by contextual factors that should not really matter (Lichtenstein and Slovic, 2006). But how do values shape our preferences and guide our decisions? In the present article we conceptualize preferences as manifestations of feelings and values, and briefly describe how they influence behavior in certain situations involving risk.