Moral Distance and Moral Motivations in Dictator Games
26 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2007
Date Written: August 20, 2007
We perform an experimental investigation using a dictator game in which individuals must make a moral decision - to give or not to give an amount of money to poor people in the Third World. A questionnaire in which the subjects are asked about the reasons for their decision shows that, at least in this case, moral motivations carry a heavy weight in the decision: the majority of dictators give the money for reasons of a consequentialist nature. Based on the results presented here and of other analogous experiments, we conclude that dictator behavior can be understood in terms of moral distance rather than social distance and that it systematically deviates from the egoism assumption in economic models and game theory.
Keywords: Dictator game, moral distance, moral motivations, experimental economics
JEL Classification: A13, C72, C91
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