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Stage_1_RegisteredReport_Crockett_protocol.pdf (1.33 MB)

Moral dilemmas and trust in leaders during a global health crisis [Registered Report Stage 1 Protocol]

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-03-19, 10:40 authored by Jim Everett, Clara Colombatto, Edmond Awad, Paulo Boggio, Björn Bos, William Brady, Megha Chawla, Vladimir Chituc, Dongil Chung, Moritz Drupp, Srishti Goel, Brit Grosskopf, Frederik Hjorth, Alissa Ji, Caleb Kealoha, Yangfei Lin, Yina Ma, Michel Maréchal, Federico Mancinelli, Christoph Mathys, Asmus Olsen, Graeme Pearce, Annayah Prosser, Niv Reggev, Nicholas Sabin, Julien Senn, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Hallgeir Sjåstad, Madelijn Strick, Sunhae Sul, Lars Tummers, Monique Turner, Hongbo Yu, Yoonseo Zoh, Molly Crockett
Trust in leaders is central to citizen compliance with public policies. One potential determinant of trust is how leaders resolve conflicts between utilitarian and non-utilitarian ethical principles in moral dilemmas. Past research suggests utilitarian responses to dilemmas can both erode and enhance trust in leaders: sacrificing some people to save many others (i.e., instrumental harm) reduces trust, while impartially maximizing the welfare of everyone equally (i.e., impartial beneficence) may increase trust. Here, we investigate moral dilemmas and trust in leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Across 22 countries on 6 continents, participants will complete behavioral and self-reported measures of trust in leaders who endorse either utilitarian or non-utilitarian principles in COVID-19 dilemmas. We predict that endorsement of instrumental harm will decrease trust, while endorsement of impartial beneficence will increase trust. These results can advance our understanding of trust in leaders and inform effective public communication during times of crisis.

Stage 1 Registered Report Protocol & Stage 1 Registered Report Supplementary Information.


Pilot data collection was supported by Prolific Academic. JACE was partly supported through the British Academy, Leverhulme Trust, and the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (SRG19\190050). WJB was supported by a National Science Foundation fellowship (award #1808868). DC was partly supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2018R1D1A1B0704358). VC was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. EA, BG, YL and GP thank the University of Exeter Business School for funding their contribution to this research. BB and MAD are grateful for support from central internationalization funds of the Universität Hamburg. NS gratefully acknowledges funding support provided by the Department of Management, Faculty of Management and Economics, Universidad de Santiago de Chile, and ANID FONDECYT de Iniciación en Investigación 2020 (Folio 11200781). ALO and FH gratefully acknowledge support from the Independent Research Fund Denmark (0213-00052B) and the Faculty of the Social Sciences at the University of Copenhagen. AMBP was supported by a scholarship from the Economic & Social Research Council. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.


Preregistration details

The study protocol was preregistered with Nature Human Behaviour.

Date of in-principle acceptance