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Strategic Behavior of Moralists and Altruists

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  • Alger, Ingela
  • Weibull, Jörgen W.

Abstract

Does altruism and morality lead to socially better outcomes in strategic interactions than selfishness? We shed some light on this complex and non-trivial issue by examining a few canonical strategic interactions played by egoists, altruists and moralists. By altruists we mean people who do not only care about their own material payoffs but also about those to others, and by a moralist we mean someone who cares about own material payoff and also about what would be his or her material payoff if others were to act like himself or herself. It turns out that both altruism and morality may improve or worsen equilibrium outcomes, depending on the nature of the game. Not surprisingly, both altruism and morality improve the outcomes in standard public goods games. In infinitely repeated games, however, both altruism and morality may diminish the prospects of cooperation, and to different degrees. In coordination games, morality can eliminate socially inefficient equilibria while altruism cannot.

Suggested Citation

  • Alger, Ingela & Weibull, Jörgen W., 2017. "Strategic Behavior of Moralists and Altruists," TSE Working Papers 17-833, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  • Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:31951
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    Cited by:

    1. Rusch, Hannes, 2019. "The evolution of collaboration in symmetric 2×2-games with imperfect recognition of types," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 118-127.
    2. Ingela Alger & Jean-François Laslier, 2022. "Homo moralis goes to the voting booth: Coordination and information aggregation," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 34(2), pages 280-312, April.
    3. Mark Alfano & Hannes Rusch & Matthias Uhl, 2018. "Ethics, Morality, and Game Theory," Games, MDPI, vol. 9(2), pages 1-4, April.
    4. Ayoubi, Charles & Thurm, Boris, 2020. "Pro-environmental behavior and morality: An economic model with heterogeneous preferences," OSF Preprints w8afg, Center for Open Science.
    5. Alger, Ingela, 2022. "Evolutionarily stable preferences," TSE Working Papers 22-1355, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Dec 2022.
    6. Jean-François Laslier, 2023. "Universalization and altruism," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 60(4), pages 579-594, May.
    7. Alger, Ingela & Van Leeuwen, Boris, 2019. "Estimating Social Preferences and Kantian Morality in Strategic Interactions," TSE Working Papers 19-1056, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Nov 2023.
    8. Ayoubi, Charles & Thurm, Boris, 2020. "Evolution and Heterogeneity of Social Preferences," OSF Preprints ucx8z, Center for Open Science.
    9. José Ignacio Rivero Wildemauwe, 2023. "Trade among moral agents with information asymmetries," THEMA Working Papers 2023-10, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
    10. José Ignacio Rivero Wildemauwe, 2023. "Moral motivations in sequential buyer-seller interactions with adverse selection," THEMA Working Papers 2023-11, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
    11. Roberto Sarkisian, 2021. "Screening Teams of Moral and Altruistic Agents," Games, MDPI, vol. 12(4), pages 1-11, October.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    altruism; morality; Homo moralis; repeated games; coordination games;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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