Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 82, Issue 1, pp 171–187 | Cite as

A Comparison of Models Describing the Impact of Moral Decision Making on Investment Decisions

  • Eva Hofmann
  • Erik Hoelzl
  • Erich Kirchler


As moral decision making in financial markets incorporates moral considerations into investment decisions, some rational decision theorists argue that moral considerations would introduce inefficiency to investment decisions. However, market demand for socially responsible investment is increasing, suggesting that investment decisions are influenced by both financial and moral considerations. Several models can be applied to explain moral behavior. We test the suitability of (a) multiple attribute utility theory (MAUT), (b) theory of planned behavior, and (c) issue-contingent model of ethical decision making in organizations. In an experimental setting, 141 participants traded company shares in a computerized asset market. Over 12 periods, companies varied in morality (i.e., treatment of employees) and in profitability (i.e., expected dividends per share). Participants’ bids and asks for shares were recorded. Results indicate that moral considerations influence investment decisions, controlling for profit. Differences between the three models are discussed.


ethics decision theory behavioral economics 


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The authors would like to thank Nicole Fabbro and Silvia Hansbauer for helping with data collection and the ‹Verein zur Foerderung der Wirtschaftspsychologie’ for financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ViennaViennaAustria

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