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Do reciprocators exploit or resist moral wiggle room? An experimental analysis

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  • Tobias Regner

    (School of Economics and Business Administration, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena)

  • Astrid Matthey

    (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena)

Abstract

By now there is substantial experimental evidence that people make use of 'moral wiggle room' (Dana et al., 2007), that is, they tend to exploit moral excuses for selfish behavior. However, this evidence is limited to dictator games. In our experiment, a trust game variant, we study whether moral wiggle room also prevails, when reciprocity is a potential motivation for being generous. Trustees' back transfer choices are elicited for five different transfer levels of the trustor. Moreover, we ask trustees to provide their back transfer schedule for different scenarios that vary the implementation probability of the back transfer. This design allows us to identify subjects who reciprocate and analyze how these reciprocators respond to the provision of moral wiggle room. Our results suggest that moral wiggle room exists as well in the context of reciprocity. Among our subjects, 40% of the reciprocators exploited moral wiggle room.

Suggested Citation

  • Tobias Regner & Astrid Matthey, 2015. "Do reciprocators exploit or resist moral wiggle room? An experimental analysis," Jena Economic Research Papers 2015-027, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2015-027
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    3. Jia, Z. Tingting & McMahon, Matthew J., 2020. "Being watched in an investment game setting: Behavioral changes when making risky decisions," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 88(C).
    4. Stüber, Robert, 2019. "The benefit of the doubt: Willful ignorance and altruistic punishment," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2019-215, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    5. Tobias Regner, 2018. "Reciprocity under moral wiggle room: Is it a preference or a constraint?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 21(4), pages 779-792, December.
    6. Pelligra, Vittorio & Reggiani, Tommaso G. & Zizzo, Daniel John, 2016. "Responding to (Un)Reasonable Requests," IZA Discussion Papers 10189, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Robert Stüber, 2020. "The benefit of the doubt: willful ignorance and altruistic punishment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 23(3), pages 848-872, September.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    social preferences; pro-social behavior; experiments; reciprocity; moral wiggle room; self-image concerns;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General

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