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In economics, game theory, and decision theory the expected utility hypothesis, concerning people's preferences with regard to choices that have uncertain outcomes (gambles), states that if specific axioms are satisfied, the subjective value associated with an individual's gamble is the statistical expectation of that individual's valuations of the outcomes of that gamble. Initiated by Daniel Bernoulli in 1738, this hypothesis has proven useful to explain some popular choices that seem to contradict the expected value criterion (which takes into account only the sizes of the payouts and the probabilities of occurrence), such as occur in the contexts of gambling and insurance. Until the mid-twentieth century, the standard term for the expected utility was the moral expectation, contrasted with "mathematical expectation" for the expected value.
The von Neumann–Morgenstern utility theorem provides necessary and sufficient conditions under which the expected utility hypothesis holds. From relatively early on, it was accepted that some of these conditions would be violated by real decision-makers in practice but that the conditions could be interpreted nonetheless as 'axioms' of rational choice.

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