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Moral Judgments in Social Dilemmas: How Bad is Free Riding?

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  • Robin P. Cubitt

    (University of Nottingham)

  • Michalis Drouvelis

    (University of Birmingham)

  • Simon Gaechter

    () (University of Nottingham)

  • Ruslan Kabalin

    (University of Lancaster)

Abstract

In the last thirty years, economists and other social scientists have investigated people’s normative views on distributive justice. Here we study people’s normative views in social dilemmas, which underlie many situations of economic and social significance. Using insights from moral philosophy and psychology we provide an analysis of the morality of free riding. We use experimental survey methods to investigate people’s moral judgments empirically. We vary others’ contributions, the framing (“give-some” vs. “take-some”) and whether contributions are simultaneous or sequential. We find that moral judgments of a free rider depend strongly on others’ behaviour; and that failing to give is condemned more strongly than withdrawing all support.

Suggested Citation

  • Robin P. Cubitt & Michalis Drouvelis & Simon Gaechter & Ruslan Kabalin, 2010. "Moral Judgments in Social Dilemmas: How Bad is Free Riding?," Discussion Papers 2010-18, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdx:dpaper:2010-18
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    Cited by:

    1. Benoît Tarroux, 2017. "The value of progressivity: Evidence from survey experiments," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) 2017-13, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS.
    2. Fangfang Tan & Erte Xiao, 2014. "Third-Party Punishment: Retribution or Deterrence?," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2014-05, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
    3. Simon Gaechter, 2014. "Human Pro-Social Motivation and the Maintenance of Social Order," Discussion Papers 2014-02, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    4. Tan, Fangfang & Xiao, Erte, 2012. "Peer punishment with third-party approval in a social dilemma game," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(3), pages 589-591.
    5. Michalis Drouvelis & Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2013. "Are Happier People Less Judgmental of Other People's Selfish Behaviors? Laboratory Evidence from Trust and Gift Exchange Games," CEP Discussion Papers dp1231, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. Martinsson, Peter & Medhin, Haileselassie & Persson, Emil, 2016. "Framing and Minimum Levels in Public Good Provision," Working Papers in Economics 656, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    7. Edward Cartwright, 2016. "A comment on framing effects in linear public good games," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(1), pages 73-84, May.
    8. Hennig-Schmidt, Heike & Selten, Reinhard & Wiesen, Daniel, 2011. "How payment systems affect physicians' provision behaviour--An experimental investigation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 637-646, July.
    9. Drouvelis, Michalis & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2015. "Are happier people less judgmental of other people's selfish behaviors? Experimental survey evidence from trust and gift exchange games," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 111-123.
    10. Alessandro Lanteri, 2010. "A note on the Trolley Problem and Three Weaknesses of Economic Theory," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 30(1), pages 500-507.
    11. Robin Cubitt & Michalis Drouvelis & Simon Gächter, 2011. "Framing and free riding: emotional responses and punishment in social dilemma games," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(2), pages 254-272, May.
    12. Grossman, Philip J. & Eckel, Catherine C., 2015. "Giving versus taking for a cause," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 28-30.
    13. Rustichini, Aldo & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2014. "Moral hypocrisy, power and social preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 107(PA), pages 10-24.
    14. Johannes Abeler & Daniele Nosenzo, 2013. "Self-selection into Economics Experiments is Driven by Monetary Rewards," Discussion Papers 2013-03, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    15. Karen Evelyn Hauge & Kjell Arne Brekke & Lars-Olof Johansson & Olof Johansson-Stenman & Henrik Svedsäter, 2016. "Keeping others in our mind or in our heart? Distribution games under cognitive load," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(3), pages 562-576, September.
    16. repec:eee:ecolet:v:157:y:2017:i:c:p:41-44 is not listed on IDEAS
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    18. Erte Xiao & Fangfang Tan, 2014. "Justification and Legitimate Punishment," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 170(1), pages 168-188, March.
    19. Johannes Abeler & Daniele Nosenzo, 2015. "Self-selection into laboratory experiments: pro-social motives versus monetary incentives," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(2), pages 195-214, June.
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    22. repec:spr:jbecon:v:87:y:2017:i:9:d:10.1007_s11573-017-0851-y is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Ferguson, Eamonn & Flynn, Niall, 2016. "Moral relativism as a disconnect between behavioural and experienced warm glow," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 163-175.
    24. Aronsson, Thomas & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2011. "Animal Welfare and Social Decisions," Working Papers in Economics 485, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    moral judgments; moral psychology; framing effects; public goods experiments; free riding;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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