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When are groups less moral than individuals?

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  • Pol Campos-Mercade

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

People are less likely to make moral decisions when they are in groups. I study when this phenomenon makes groups less likely to produce a morally desirable outcome than one individual alone. I formulate and test a model in which a moral outcome occurs if at least one individual makes a costly decision. Using a lab experiment and data from field experiments on the bystander effect, I show that if most individuals are moral, the moral outcome is more likely to be produced by one individual, whereas if most individuals are immoral, it is more likely to be produced by a group. This rule is not only useful for reconciling previous mixed evidence on moral decisions in groups, but may also be applied to better design organizations and institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Pol Campos-Mercade, 2020. "When are groups less moral than individuals?," CEBI working paper series 20-26, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. The Center for Economic Behavior and Inequality (CEBI).
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kucebi:2026
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    File URL: https://www.econ.ku.dk/cebi/publikationer/working-papers/CEBI_WP_26-20.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Campos-Mercade, Pol, 2021. "The volunteer’s dilemma explains the bystander effect," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 186(C), pages 646-661.
    2. Pol Campos-Mercade, 2020. "The Volunteer’s Dilemma explains the Bystander Effect," CEBI working paper series 20-27, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. The Center for Economic Behavior and Inequality (CEBI).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    moral behavior; group size; bystander effect; social preferences;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General

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