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Narratives, Imperatives, and Moral Reasoning

Author

Listed:
  • Benabou, Roland

    () (Princeton University)

  • Falk, Armin

    () (briq, University of Bonn)

  • Tirole, Jean

    () (IDEI)

Abstract

By downplaying externalities, magnifying the cost of moral behavior, or suggesting not being pivotal, exculpatory narratives can allow individuals to maintain a positive image when in fact acting in a morally questionable way. Conversely, responsibilizing narratives can help sustain better social norms. We investigate when narratives emerge from a principal or the actor himself, how they are interpreted and transmitted by others, and when they spread virally. We then turn to how narratives compete with imperatives (general moral rules or precepts) as alternative modes of communication to persuade agents to behave in desirable ways.

Suggested Citation

  • Benabou, Roland & Falk, Armin & Tirole, Jean, 2018. "Narratives, Imperatives, and Moral Reasoning," IZA Discussion Papers 11665, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11665
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Manuel Foerster & Joel (J.J.) van der Weele, 2018. "Denial and Alarmism in Collective Action Problems," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 18-019/I, Tinbergen Institute.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    moral behavior; prosocial behavior; narratives; imperatives; justifications; rules; Kantian reasoning; deontology; consequentialism; utilitarianism; norms; organizations;

    JEL classification:

    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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