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Are Happier People Less Judgmental of Other People's Selfish Behaviors? Laboratory Evidence from Trust and Gift Exchange Games

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  • Michalis Drouvelis
  • Nattavudh Powdthavee

Abstract

What determines people's moral judgments of selfish behaviors? Here we study whether people's normative views in trust and gift exchange games, which underlie many situations of economic and social significance, are themselves functions of positive emotions. We used experimental survey methods to investigate people's moral judgments empirically, and explored whether we could influence subsequent judgments by deliberately making some individuals happier. We found that moral judgments of selfish behaviors in the economic context depend strongly on other people's behaviors, but their relationships are significantly moderated by an increase in happiness for the person making the judgment.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp1231.

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Date of creation: Jul 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1231

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Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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Keywords: Happiness; moral judgments; trust games; gift exchange games;

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  1. Oswald, Andrew J. & Proto, Eugenio & Sgroi, Daniel, 2008. "Happiness and Productivity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 882, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  2. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Robin Cubitt & Michalis Drouvelis & Simon Gaechter & Ruslan Kabalin, 2009. "Moral Judgments in Social Dilemmas: How Bad is Free Riding?," Discussion Papers 2009-15, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  4. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  5. Kube, Sebastian & Maréchal, Michel André & Puppe, Clemens, 2011. "The currency of reciprocity - gift-exchange in the workplace," Working Paper Series in Economics 25, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Department of Economics and Business Engineering.
  6. Kirchsteiger, Georg & Rigotti, Luca & Rustichini, Aldo, 2006. "Your morals might be your moods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 155-172, February.
  7. John Ifcher & Homa Zarghamee, 2011. "Happiness and Time Preference: The Effect of Positive Affect in a Random-Assignment Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3109-29, December.
  8. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  9. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rigdon, Mary L. & Smith, Vernon L., 2003. "Positive reciprocity and intentions in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 267-275, October.
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