IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/hka/wpaper/2016-013.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Diffusion of Being Pivotal and Immoral Outcomes

Author

Listed:
  • Armin Falk

    () (Universität Bonn)

  • Nora Szech

    () (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie)

Abstract

We study how diffusing being pivotal affects the willingness to support immoral outcomes. Subjects decide about agreeing to kill mice and receiving money versus objecting to kill mice and foregoing the monetary amount. We investigate an exogenous diffusion of being pivotal imposed by organizational design as well as self-imposed, endogenous diffusion of being pivotal. Regarding exogenous diffusion, we compare two treatments. We keep overall financial incentives and overall payoff consequences identical, yet vary the decision rule: In Baseline subjects decide individually about the life of one mouse. In the Exogenous Diffusion treatment, subjects are organized into groups of eight. Eight mice are killed if at least one subject supports the killing. The fraction of subjects agreeing to kill is significantly higher in Exogenous Diffusion than in Baseline. Moreover, in Exogenous Diffusion, the likelihood to agree to the killing decreases in subjective perceptions of being pivotal. We then show that many subjects actually have a preference to actively create a situation where being pivotal is diffused. In the Endogenous Diffusion treatment, each subject chooses the probability of killing a mouse. The monetary amount a subject receives is proportional to the killing probability. More than 30 percent of subjects opt for intermediate killing probabilities, thereby actively diffusing being pivotal at a proportional reduction of money. Response times and feelings of remorse and bad conscience suggest that it is in particular subjects experiencing moral conflict who prefer diffusing being pivotal. Presumably, this serves as a means to keep a positive self-image while behaving selfishly.

Suggested Citation

  • Armin Falk & Nora Szech, 2016. "Diffusion of Being Pivotal and Immoral Outcomes," Working Papers 2016-013, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2016-013
    Note: IP, MIP
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://humcap.uchicago.edu/RePEc/hka/wpaper/Falk_Szech_2016_diffusion_pivotal_immoral.pdf
    File Function: First version, September, 2014
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jean Tirole & Roland Bénabou, 2006. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1652-1678, December.
    2. Thomas Deckers & Armin Falk & Fabian Kosse & Nora Szech, 2016. "Homo Moralis: Personal Characteristics, Institutions, and Moral Decision-Making," CESifo Working Paper Series 5800, CESifo.
    3. Björn Bartling & Yagiz Özdemir, 2017. "The limits to moral erosion in markets: social norms and the replacement excuse," ECON - Working Papers 263, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    4. John Duffy & Margit Tavits, 2008. "Beliefs and Voting Decisions: A Test of the Pivotal Voter Model," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 52(3), pages 603-618, July.
    5. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    6. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
    7. John R. Hamman & George Loewenstein & Roberto A. Weber, 2010. "Self-Interest through Delegation: An Additional Rationale for the Principal-Agent Relationship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1826-1846, September.
    8. Jason Dana & Roberto Weber & Jason Kuang, 2007. "Exploiting moral wiggle room: experiments demonstrating an illusory preference for fairness," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 33(1), pages 67-80, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Casal, Sandro & Fallucchi, Francesco & Quercia, Simone, 2019. "The role of morals in three-player ultimatum games," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 67-79.
    2. Adrian Hillenbrand, 2018. "Cooperation with lists," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2018_01, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    3. Name-Correa, Alvaro J. & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2019. "Social pressure, transparency, and voting in committees," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 184(C).
    4. Julio J. Elías & Nicola Lacetera & Mario Macis, 2019. "Paying for Kidneys? A Randomized Survey and Choice Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(8), pages 2855-2888, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    diffusion of being pivotal; morality; replacement logic; self-image; response times;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2016-013. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jennifer Pachon). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/mfichus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.