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Are Happier People Less Judgmental of Other People's Selfish Behaviors? Laboratory Evidence from Trust and Gift Exchange Games

  • Michalis Drouvelis
  • Nattavudh Powdthavee

What determines people's moral judgments of selfish behaviors? Here we study whether people's normative views in trust and gift exchange games, which underlie many situations of economic and social significance, are themselves functions of positive emotions. We used experimental survey methods to investigate people's moral judgments empirically, and explored whether we could influence subsequent judgments by deliberately making some individuals happier. We found that moral judgments of selfish behaviors in the economic context depend strongly on other people's behaviors, but their relationships are significantly moderated by an increase in happiness for the person making the judgment.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp1231.

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Date of creation: Jul 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1231
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Kirchsteiger, Georg & Rigotti, Luca & Rustichini, Aldo, 2006. "Your morals might be your moods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 155-172, February.
  2. 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.
  3. Oswald, Andrew J. & Proto, Eugenio & Sgroi, Daniel, 2009. "Happiness and Productivity," IZA Discussion Papers 4645, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
  5. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocitys," IEW - Working Papers 040, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  6. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rigdon, Mary L. & Smith, Vernon L., 2003. "Positive reciprocity and intentions in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 267-275, October.
  7. John Ifcher & Homa Zarghamee, 2011. "Happiness and Time Preference: The Effect of Positive Affect in a Random-Assignment Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3109-29, December.
  8. Kube, Sebastian & Maréchal, Michel André & Puppe, Clemens, 2011. "The currency of reciprocity - gift-exchange in the workplace," Working Paper Series in Economics 25, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Department of Economics and Business Engineering.
  9. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
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