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Moral Judgments in Social Dilemmas: How Bad is Free Riding?

  • Robin P. Cubitt

    (University of Nottingham)

  • Michalis Drouvelis

    (University of Birmingham)

  • Simon Gaechter


    (University of Nottingham)

  • Ruslan Kabalin

    (University of Lancaster)

In the last thirty years, economists and other social scientists have investigated people’s normative views on distributive justice. Here we study people’s normative views in social dilemmas, which underlie many situations of economic and social significance. Using insights from moral philosophy and psychology we provide an analysis of the morality of free riding. We use experimental survey methods to investigate people’s moral judgments empirically. We vary others’ contributions, the framing (“give-some” vs. “take-some”) and whether contributions are simultaneous or sequential. We find that moral judgments of a free rider depend strongly on others’ behaviour; and that failing to give is condemned more strongly than withdrawing all support.

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Paper provided by The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham in its series Discussion Papers with number 2010-18.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:not:notcdx:2010-18
Contact details of provider: Postal: School of Economics University of Nottingham University Park Nottingham NG7 2RD
Phone: (44) 0115 951 5620
Fax: (0115) 951 4159
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