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The power of moral words: Loaded language generates framing effects in the extreme dictator game

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  • Valerio Capraro
  • Andrea Vanzo

Abstract

Understanding whether preferences are sensitive to the frame has been a major topic of debate in the last decades. For example, several works have explored whether the dictator game in the give frame gives rise to a different rate of pro-sociality than the same game in the take frame, leading to mixed results. Here we contribute to this debate with two experiments. In Study 1 (N=567) we implement an extreme dictator game in which the dictator either gets $0.50 and the recipient gets nothing, or the opposite (i.e., the recipient gets $0.50 and the dictator gets nothing). We experimentally manipulate the words describing the available actions using six terms, from very negative (e.g., stealing) to very positive (e.g., donating) connotations. We find that the rate of pro-sociality is affected by the words used to describe the available actions. In Study 2 (N=221) we ask brand new participants to rate each of the words used in Study 1 from ``extremely wrong'' to ``extremely right''. We find that these moral judgments can explain the framing effect in Study 1. In sum, our studies provide evidence that framing effects in an extreme Dictator game can be generated using morally loaded language.

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  • Valerio Capraro & Andrea Vanzo, 2019. "The power of moral words: Loaded language generates framing effects in the extreme dictator game," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 14(3), pages 309-317, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:14:y:2019:i:3:p:309-317
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    2. Ernesto Mesa-Vázquez & Ismael Rodriguez-Lara & Amparo Urbano, 2019. "Standard vs random dictator games. The effect of role uncertainty on generosity," ThE Papers 20/05, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
    3. Ennio Bilancini & Leonardo Boncinelli & Valerio Capraro & Roberto Di Paolo, 2020. "The effect of norm-based messages on reading and understanding COVID-19 pandemic response governmental rules," Journal of Behavioral Economics for Policy, Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Economics (SABE), vol. 4(S), pages 45-55, June.
    4. Marc Wyszynski & Adele Diederich & Ilana Ritov, 2020. "Gamble for the needy! Does identifiability enhances donation?," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(6), pages 1-19, June.
    5. Capraro, Valerio & Rodriguez-Lara, Ismael & Ruiz-Martos, Maria J., 2020. "Preferences for efficiency, rather than preferences for morality, drive cooperation in the one-shot Stag-Hunt game," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 86(C).
    6. Long Huang & Wansheng Lei & Fuming Xu & Hairong Liu & Liang Yu & Fujun Shi & Lei Wang, 2020. "Maxims nudge equitable or efficient choices in a Trade-Off Game," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(6), pages 1-13, June.
    7. Hezhi Chen & Zhijia Zeng & Jianhong Ma, 2020. "The source of punishment matters: Third-party punishment restrains observers from selfish behaviors better than does second-party punishment by shaping norm perceptions," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(3), pages 1-10, March.
    8. Carlos Andres Trujillo & Catalina Estrada-Mejia & Jose A Rosa, 2021. "Norm-focused nudges influence pro-environmental choices and moderate post-choice emotional responses," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 16(3), pages 1-23, March.
    9. Mesa-Vázquez, Ernesto & Rodriguez-Lara, Ismael & Urbano, Amparo, 2021. "Standard vs random dictator games: On the effects of role uncertainty and framing on generosity," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 206(C).
    10. Ennio Bilancini & Leonardo Boncinelli & Valerio Capraro & Tatiana Celadin & Roberto Di Paolo, 2020. ""Do the right thing" for whom? An experiment on ingroup favouritism, group assorting and moral suasion," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 15(2), pages 182-192, March.
    11. Valerio Capraro & Andrea Vanzo & Antonio Cabrales, 2022. "Playing with words: Do people exploit loaded language to affect others’ decisions for their own benefit?," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 17(1), pages 50-69, January.
    12. Thunström, Linda, 2019. "Preferences for fairness over losses," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 83(C).

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