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Weak moral motivation leads to the decline of voluntary contributions

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  • Charles FIGUIERES
  • Marc WILLINGER
  • David MASCLET

Abstract

This paper provides a general framework that accounts for the decay of the average contribution observed in most experiments on voluntary contributions to a public good. Each player balances her material utility loss from contributing with her psychological utility loss of deviating from her moral ideal. The novel and central idea of our model is that people.s moral motivation is "weak": their judgement about what is the right contribution to a public good can evolve in the course of interactions, depending partly on observed past contributions and partly on an intrinsic "moral ideal". Under the assumption of weakly morally motivated agents, average voluntary contributions can decline with repetition of the game. Our model also explains other regularities observed in experiments, in particular the phenomenon of over-contributions compared to the Nash prediction and the so-called restart e¤ect, and it is compatible with the conditional cooperation hypothesis.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles FIGUIERES & Marc WILLINGER & David MASCLET, 2009. "Weak moral motivation leads to the decline of voluntary contributions," Working Papers 09-09, LAMETA, Universitiy of Montpellier, revised Aug 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:lam:wpaper:09-09
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    File URL: http://www.lameta.univ-montp1.fr/Documents/DR2009-09.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Martin G. Kocher & Peter Martinsson & Kristian Ove R. Myrseth & Conny E. Wollbrant, 2017. "Strong, bold, and kind: self-control and cooperation in social dilemmas," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 20(1), pages 44-69, March.
    2. Benjamin Ouvrard & Sandrine Spaeter, 2016. "Environmental Incentives: Nudge or Tax?," Working Papers of BETA 2016-23, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    3. Kene Boun My & Benjamin Ouvrard, 2017. "Nudge and Tax in an Environmental Public Goods Experiment: Does Environmental Sensitivity Matter?," Working Papers of BETA 2017-06, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    4. Dickinson, David L. & Masclet, David & Peterle, Emmanuel, 2018. "Discrimination as favoritism: The private benefits and social costs of in-group favoritism in an experimental labor market," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 220-236.

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    JEL classification:

    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games

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