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Institutions, shared guilt, and moral transgression

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  • Rothenhäusler, Dominik
  • Schweizer, Nikolaus
  • Szech, Nora

Abstract

We study how institutional design influences moral transgression. People are heterogeneous in their feelings of guilt and can share guilt with others. Institutions determine the number of supporters necessary for immoral outcomes to occur. With more supporters required, every supporter can share guilt more easily. This facilitates becoming a supporter. Conversely, an institution requiring more supporters must rely on people who have higher individual moral standards. We analyze individual thresholds for agreeing to a transgression, depending on the available options for sharing guilt by institutional design. On the aggregate level, we study how institutions affect the likelihood of immoral outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Rothenhäusler, Dominik & Schweizer, Nikolaus & Szech, Nora, 2013. "Institutions, shared guilt, and moral transgression," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2013-305, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbeoc:spii2013305
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Palfrey, Thomas R. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1984. "Participation and the provision of discrete public goods: a strategic analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 171-193, July.
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    6. Björn Bartling & Urs Fischbacher, 2012. "Shifting the Blame: On Delegation and Responsibility," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 67-87.
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    Cited by:

    1. Strobel, Christina & Kirchkamp, Oliver, 2017. "Sharing responsibility with a machine," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168106, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Dufwenberg, Martin & Patel, Amrish, 2017. "Reciprocity networks and the participation problem," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 260-272.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Moral Decision Making; Shared Guilt; Group Absolution; Diffused Responsibility; Institutional Design; Committee Decisions; Moral Transgression;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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