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Institutions, shared guilt, and moral transgression

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  • Rothenhäusler, Dominik
  • Schweizer, Nikolaus
  • Szech, Nora
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    Abstract

    We study how institutional design influences moral transgression. People are heterogeneous in their feelings of guilt and can share guilt with others. Institutions determine the number of supporters necessary for immoral outcomes to occur. With more supporters required, every supporter can share guilt more easily. This facilitates becoming a supporter. Conversely, an institution requiring more supporters must rely on people who have higher individual moral standards. We analyze individual thresholds for agreeing to a transgression, depending on the available options for sharing guilt by institutional design. On the aggregate level, we study how institutions affect the likelihood of immoral outcomes. -- Diese Arbeit untersucht den Einfluss von institutionellem Design auf moralische Übertretungen. Menschen unterscheiden sich im Ausmaß ihrer Schuldgefühle und können diese in einer Gruppe mit anderen teilen. Von den jeweiligen Institutionen hängt es ab, wie viel unterstützende Personen für unmoralisches Verhalten notwendig sind. Je mehr dies sind, desto leichter kann jede von ihnen Schuld auf andere abgeben. Dies wiederum erleichtert es, zum Unterstützer für Übertretungen zu werden. Umgekehrt muss eine Institution, für die mehr Unterstützer nötig sind, auf Personen vertrauen, die höhere individuelle moralische Standards haben. Wir analysieren individuelle Hemmschwellen für die Zustimmung zu Übertretungen in Abhängigkeit von den zur Verfügung stehenden Optionen, Schuld über das jeweilige institutionelle Design auf andere zu verteilen. Auf aggregierter Ebene studieren wir, wie Institutionen die Wahrscheinlichkeit von unmoralischem Verhalten beeinflussen.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in its series Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change with number SP II 2013-305.

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    Date of creation: 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbeoc:spii2013305

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    Related research

    Keywords: Moral Decision Making; Shared Guilt; Group Absolution; Diffused Responsibility; Institutional Design; Committee Decisions; Moral Transgression;

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    References

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    1. Björn Bartling & Urs Fischbacher, 2008. "Shifting the Blame: On Delegation and Responsibility," TWI Research Paper Series 32, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.
    2. John R. Hamman & George Loewenstein & Roberto A. Weber, 2010. "Self-Interest through Delegation: An Additional Rationale for the Principal-Agent Relationship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1826-46, September.
    3. Huck, Steffen & Konrad, Kai A., 2003. "Moral cost, commitment, and committee size," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2003-31, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    4. Li Hao & Wing Suen, 2009. "Viewpoint: Decision-making in committees," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 42(2), pages 359-392, May.
    5. Joseph E Harrington Jr, 2001. "A Simple Game-Theoretic Explanation for the Relationship Between Group Size and Helping," Economics Working Paper Archive 417, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
    6. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
    7. Crettez, Bertrand & Deloche, Regis, 2011. "On the optimality of a duty-to-rescue rule and the cost of wrongful intervention," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 263-271.
    8. Palfrey, Thomas R. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1984. "Participation and the provision of discrete public goods: a strategic analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 171-193, July.
    9. Jason Dana & Roberto Weber & Jason Kuang, 2007. "Exploiting moral wiggle room: experiments demonstrating an illusory preference for fairness," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 67-80, October.
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