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Generosity and guilt: The role of beliefs and moral standards of others

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  • Hauge, Karen Evelyn

Abstract

Why are people generous? One reason may be to avoid feeling guilt – in terms of failing to meet others’ expectations or in terms of failing to meet others’ moral standards. The present article reports an experiment using the ‘dictator game’ while manipulating the dictators’ beliefs about the receivers’ expectations and moral standards. The results indicate that generosity is indeed driven by guilt-aversion: Dictators are more generous when the receiver expects more, and also when the receiver considers that dictators should, morally speaking, give more. If dictators were motivated by pure altruism or equity concerns, the receiver’s expectations or moral beliefs should not matter.

Suggested Citation

  • Hauge, Karen Evelyn, 2016. "Generosity and guilt: The role of beliefs and moral standards of others," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 35-43.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:54:y:2016:i:c:p:35-43 DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2016.03.001
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    Cited by:

    1. Pelligra, Vittorio & Reggiani, Tommaso G. & Zizzo, Daniel John, 2016. "Responding to (Un)Reasonable Requests," IZA Discussion Papers 10189, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. repec:spr:jesaex:v:3:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s40881-017-0043-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Loukas Balafoutas & Helena Fornwagner, 2016. "The limits of guilt," Working Papers 2016-09, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Guilt; Dictator game; Generosity; Disapproval; Disappointment; Behavioural economics;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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