Moral investing: Psychological motivations and implications

Enrico Rubaltelli*, Lorella Lotto, Ilana Ritov, Rino Rumiati

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In four experiments we showed that investors are not only interested in maximizing returns but have non-financial goals, too. We considered what drives the decision to invest ethically and the impact this strategy has on people’s evaluation of investment performance. In Study 1, participants who chose a moral portfolio (over an immoral one) reported being less interested in maximizing their gains and more interested in being true to their moral values. These participants also reported feeling lower disappointment upon learning that a different decision could have yield a better outcome. In Studies 2 and 3, we replicated these findings when investors decided not to invest in immoral assets, rather than when they choose to invest morally. In Study 4, we found similar results using the same industrial sector in both the moral and the immoral conditions and providing participants with information about the expected return of the portfolio they were presented with. These findings lend empirical support to the conclusion that investors have both utilitarian (financial) goals and expressive (non-financial) ones and show how non-financial motivations can influence the reaction to unsatisfactory investment performance.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)64-75
Number of pages12
JournalJudgment and Decision Making
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014.


  • Behavioral finance
  • Choice
  • Emotion
  • Ethical behavior


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