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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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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/51573/
File Function: Open access version.
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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 51573.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:51573
Contact details of provider: Postal: LSE Library Portugal Street London, WC2A 2HD, U.K.
Phone: +44 (020) 7405 7686
Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/

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  1. Robin Cubitt & Michalis Drouvelis & Simon Gachter & Ruslan Kabalin, . "Moral Judgments in Social Dilemmas: How Bad is Free Riding?," Discussion Papers 09/20, Department of Economics, University of York.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Oswald, Andrew & Proto, Eugenio & Sgroi, Daniel, 2013. "Happiness and Productivity," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 108, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  6. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocitys," IEW - Working Papers 040, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  7. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
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