A qualification introduced by Bentham, to distinguish between two different types of utilities, or, rather, sources of utility (for utility, being identical to pleasure, remains always qualitatively the same). Expectation utilities are future-regarding, and thus imply desires and beliefs; "natural" utilities are not. Expectation utilities allow for long-term projects, which provide a higher proportion of utility than the natural utilities favored by those agents that can only pursue their immediate interest.

The notion of 'expectation utility' must not be mistaken for that of 'expected utility'.