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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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Sebastian J. Goerg & David Rand & Gari Walkowitz, 2020. "Framing effects in the prisoner’s dilemma but not in the dictator game," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 6(1), pages 1-12, June.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.

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