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Moral Costs and Rational Choice: Theory and Experimental Evidence

Author

Listed:
  • James Cox
  • John List
  • Michael Price
  • Vjollca Sadiraj
  • Anya Samek

Abstract

The literature exploring other regarding behavior sheds important light on interesting social phenomena, yet less attention has been given to how the received results speak to foundational assumptions within economics. Our study synthesizes the empirical evidence, showing that recent work challenges convex preference theory but is largely consistent with rational choice theory. Guided by this understanding, we design a new, more demanding test of a central tenet of economics - the contraction axiom - within a sharing framework. Making use of more than 325 dictators participating in a series of allocation games, we show that sharing choices violate the contraction axiom. We advance a new theory that augments standard models with moral reference points to explain our experimental data. Our theory also organizes the broader sharing patterns in the received literature.

Suggested Citation

  • James Cox & John List & Michael Price & Vjollca Sadiraj & Anya Samek, 2016. "Moral Costs and Rational Choice: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Artefactual Field Experiments 00445, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:artefa:00445
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    Cited by:

    1. Lind, Jo Thori & Nyborg, Karine & Pauls, Anna, 2019. "Save the planet or close your eyes? Testing strategic ignorance in a charity context," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 161(C), pages 9-19.
    2. Daniel Woods & Maroš Servátka, 2019. "Nice to you, nicer to me: Does self-serving generosity diminish the reciprocal response?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 22(2), pages 506-529, June.
    3. Panizza, Folco & Vostroknutov, Alexander & Coricelli, Giorgio, 2019. "Meta-Context and Choice-Set Effects in Mini-Dictator Games," Research Memorandum 010, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).
    4. repec:gam:jgames:v:9:y:2018:i:4:p:78-:d:173893 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:joepsy:v:71:y:2019:i:c:p:88-101 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:ecolet:v:171:y:2018:i:c:p:211-213 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:eee:ecolec:v:150:y:2018:i:c:p:229-240 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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