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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:

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    3. Vittorio Pelligra & Tommaso Reggiani & Daniel John Zizzo, 2020. "Responding to (un)reasonable requests by an authority," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 89(3), pages 287-311, October.
    4. Pelligra, Vittorio & Reggiani, Tommaso G. & Zizzo, Daniel John, 2016. "Responding to (Un)Reasonable Requests," IZA Discussion Papers 10189, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Martin Dufwenberg, 2020. "Belief-Dependent Motivations and Psychological Game Theory," CESifo Working Paper Series 8285, CESifo.
    6. Giuseppe Attanasi & Claire Rimbaud & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2020. "Guilt Aversion in (New) Games: the Role of Vulnerability," GREDEG Working Papers 2020-15, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), Université Côte d'Azur, France.
    7. Giuseppe Attanasi & Claire Rimbaud & Marie Claire Villeval, 2022. "Guilt Aversion in (New) Games:Does Partners’ Vulnerability Matter?," Working Papers 2203, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    8. Anastasia Danilov & Kiryl Khalmetski & Dirk Sliwka, 2018. "Norms and Guilt," CESifo Working Paper Series 6999, CESifo.
    9. Goff, Sandra H., 2021. "A test of willingness to pay as penance in the demand for ethical consumption," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 94(C).
    10. Shoji, Masahiro, 2020. "Guilt and Antisocial Conformism: Experimental Evidence from Bangladesh," MPRA Paper 100735, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Danilov, Anastasia & Khalmetski, Kiryl & Sliwka, Dirk, 2021. "Descriptive Norms and Guilt Aversion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 191(C), pages 293-311.
    12. Loukas Balafoutas & Helena Fornwagner, 2017. "The limits of guilt," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 3(2), pages 137-148, December.
    13. Sanjit Dhami & Mengxing Wei & Ali al-Nowaihi, 2021. "Classical and Belief-Based Gift Exchange Models: Theory and Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 8992, CESifo.
    14. Jacob P. Byl, 2021. "Three Barriers to Effective Programs with Payment for Ecosystem Services: Behavioral Responses in a Computer-Based Experiment," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(22), pages 1-17, November.
    15. Morell, Alexander, 2019. "The short arm of guilt – An experiment on group identity and guilt aversion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 332-345.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Guilt; Dictator game; Generosity; Disapproval; Disappointment; Behavioural economics;
    All these keywords.

    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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