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Social preferences and moral biases

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Author Info

  • Croson, Rachel
  • Konow, James

Abstract

An emerging consensus in economics is that three motives are at work in strategic decisions: distributive preferences, reciprocal preferences and self-interest. An important obstacle, however, has been moral biases: distortions created by self-interest can obscure our measures of social preferences. This paper describes a simple experiment to address this. We compare the decisions of implicated "stakeholders" with those of impartial "spectators." We find that stakeholders are less inclined to respond to the generosity of others than are spectators. We also clarify a result in previous research [e.g., Offerman, T., 2002. Hurting hurts more than helping helps. European Economic Review 46, 1423-1437] that stakeholders punish unkindness more than they reward kindness. We find that this asymmetry in reciprocity has two sources: an asymmetry in the underlying preference that even impartial spectators display and a moral bias; stakeholders punish more and reward less than spectators. In sum, we find that all three motives have important and significant effects on final allocations.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 69 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (March)
Pages: 201-212

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:69:y:2009:i:3:p:201-212

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

Related research

Keywords: Reciprocity Fairness Justice Moral bias;

References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Robin P. Cubitt & Michalis Drouvelis & Simon Gaechter & Ruslan Kabalin, 2010. "Moral Judgments in Social Dilemmas: How Bad is Free Riding?," Discussion Papers 2010-18, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  2. Fangfang Tan & Erte Xiao, 2011. "Peer Punishment with Third-Party Approval in a Social Dilemma Game," Working Papers peer_punishment_with_thir, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
  3. Robin Cubitt & Michalis Drouvelis & Simon Gächter, 2011. "Framing and free riding: emotional responses and punishment in social dilemma games," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 254-272, May.
  4. Timo Tammi, 2011. "Contractual preferences and moral biases: social identity and procedural fairness in the exclusion game experiment," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 373-397, December.
  5. Konow, James, 2009. "Adam Smith and Moral Knowledge," MPRA Paper 18557, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Herne, Kaisa & Lappalainen, Olli & Kestilä-Kekkonen, Elina, 2013. "Experimental comparison of direct, general, and indirect reciprocity," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 38-46.
  7. James Konow & Tatsuyoshi Saijo & Kenju Akai, 2008. "Morals and Mores? Experimental Evidence on Equity and Equality from the US and Japan," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002055, David K. Levine.
  8. Pedro FrancŽs-G—mez & Lorenzo Sacconi & Marco Faillo, 2012. "Behavioral Business Ethics as a Method for Normative Business Ethics," Econometica Working Papers wp42, Econometica.
  9. Ismael Rodriguez-Lara, 2013. "An Experimental Study of Gender Differences in Distributive Justice," Discussion Papers in Economic Behaviour 0213, University of Valencia, ERI-CES.
  10. Ismael Rodriguez-Lara & Luis Moreno-Garrido, 2012. "Modeling Inequity Aversion in a Dictator Game with Production," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(4), pages 138-149, October.
  11. Ismael Rodriguez-Lara & Luis Moreno-Garrido, 2012. "Self-interest and fairness: self-serving choices of justice principles," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 158-175, March.

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