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Moral distance in dictator games

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  • Fernando Aguiar
  • Pablo Brañas-Garza
  • Luis M. Miller

Abstract

We perform an experimental investigation using a dictator game in which individuals must make a moral decision --- to give or not to give an amount of money to poor people in the Third World. A questionnaire in which the subjects are asked about the reasons for their decision shows that, at least in this case, moral motivations carry a heavy weight in the decision:\ the majority of dictators give the money for reasons of a consequentialist nature. Based on the results presented here and of other analogous experiments, we conclude that dicator behavior can be understood in terms of moral distance rather than social distance and that it systematically deviates from the egoism assumption in economic models and game theory. %\textit{JEL}: A13, C72, C91

Suggested Citation

  • Fernando Aguiar & Pablo Brañas-Garza & Luis M. Miller, 2008. "Moral distance in dictator games," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 3, pages 344-354, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:3:y:2008:i::p:344-354
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:eee:soceco:v:68:y:2017:i:c:p:25-40 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Lagarde, Mylene & Blaauw, Duane, 2014. "Pro-social preferences and self-selection into jobs: Evidence from South African nurses," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 107(PA), pages 136-152.
    3. Fong, Christina M. & Luttmer, Erzo F.P., 2011. "Do fairness and race matter in generosity? Evidence from a nationally representative charity experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5-6), pages 372-394, June.
    4. repec:unu:wpaper:wp2012-55 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Alexander W. Cappelen & Karl Ove Moene & Erik Ø. Sørensen & Bertil Tungodden, 2008. "Rich meets Poor - An International Fairness Experiment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 08-098/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    6. Fernando Aguiar & Pablo Branas-Garza & Maria Paz Espinosa & Luis Miller, 2010. "Personal identity: a theoretical and experimental analysis," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(3), pages 261-275.
    7. Pablo Brañas-Garza, 2008. "Expected Behavior in the Dictator Game," ThE Papers 08/12, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
    8. Osório, António (António Miguel), 2017. "Self-interest and Equity Concerns: A Behavioural Allocation Rule for Operational Problems," Working Papers 2072/290757, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics.
    9. Jade Wong & Andreas Ortman, 2013. "Do Donors Care About the Price of Giving? A Review of the Evidence, with Some Theory to Organize It," Discussion Papers 2013-22, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
    10. Pablo Brañas-Garza & Juan C. Cárdenas & Máximo Rossi, 2009. "Gender, education and reciprocal generosity: Evidence from 1,500 experiment subjects," Working Papers 128, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    11. Lorna Zischka, 2016. "The Interaction between Prosocial (Giving) Behaviours and Social Cohesion," Economics & Management Discussion Papers em-dp2016-07, Henley Business School, Reading University.
    12. Daniel John Zizzo, 2013. "Do dictator games measure altruism?," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Reciprocity and Social Enterprise, chapter 10, pages 108-111 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    13. El Harbi, Sana & Bekir, Insaf & Grolleau, Gilles & Sutan, Angela, 2015. "Efficiency, equality, positionality: What do people maximize? Experimental vs. hypothetical evidence from Tunisia," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 77-84.
    14. Lagarde, Mylène & Blaauw, Duane, 2014. "Pro-social preferences and self-selection into jobs: Evidence from South African nurses," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 85229, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    15. repec:jdm:journl:v:12:y:2017:i:6:p:527-536 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Franzen, Axel & Pointner, Sonja, 2012. "Anonymity in the dictator game revisited," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 74-81.
    17. van Rijn, Jordan & Quinones, Esteban J. & Barham, Bradford L., 2017. "An Experimental Test of Gender Differences in Charitable Giving: Empathy Is at the Heart of the Matter," Staff Paper Series 586, University of Wisconsin, Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    18. Osório, António, 2017. "Self-interest and equity concerns: A behavioural allocation rule for operational problems," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 261(1), pages 205-213.
    19. van Rijn, Jordan & Barham, Bradford & Sundaram-Stukel, Reka, 2016. "An Experimental Approach to Comparing Similarity- and Guilt-Based Charitable Appeals," Staff Paper Series 584, University of Wisconsin, Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    20. Anastasios Koukoumelis & M. Vittoria Levati & Matteo Ploner, 2013. "The effect of identifiability on the relationship between risk attitudes and other-regarding concerns," Jena Economic Research Papers 2013-028, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    dictator game; moral distance; moral motivations; experimental economics.;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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