People making deontological judgments in the Trapdoor dilemma are perceived to be more prosocial in economic games than they actually are

19 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2017  

Valerio Capraro

Middlesex University

Jonathan Sippel

University of Amsterdam

Bonan Zhao

University of Amsterdam

Levin Hornischer

University of Amsterdam

Morgan Savary

Ecole Centrale Marseille

Zoi Terzopoulou

University of Amsterdam

Pierre Faucher

Ecole Centrale Marseille

Simone Griffioen

University of Amsterdam

Date Written: December 15, 2017

Abstract

Why do people make deontological decisions, although they often lead to overall unfavorable outcomes? One account is receiving considerable attention: deontological judgments may signal commitment to prosociality and thus may increase people’s chances of being selected as social partners – which carries obvious long-term benefits. Here we test this framework by experimentally exploring whether people making deontological judgments are expected to be more prosocial than those making consequentialist judgments and whether they are actually so. In line with previous studies, we identified deontological choices using the Trapdoor dilemma. Using economic games, we take two measures of general prosociality towards strangers: trustworthiness and altruism. Our results procure converging evidence for a perception gap according to which Trapdoor-deontologists are believed to be more trustworthy and more altruistic towards strangers than Trapdoor-consequentialists, but actually they are not so. These results show that deontological judgments are not universal, reliable signals of prosociality.

Keywords: deontology, consequentialism, altruism, trustworthiness, prosociality, moral dilemmas, economic games

JEL Classification: C70, C79, C90, C91, C92, D64, D70, D71, H41

Suggested Citation

Capraro, Valerio and Sippel, Jonathan and Zhao, Bonan and Hornischer, Levin and Savary, Morgan and Terzopoulou, Zoi and Faucher, Pierre and Griffioen, Simone, People making deontological judgments in the Trapdoor dilemma are perceived to be more prosocial in economic games than they actually are (December 15, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2905673 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2905673

Valerio Capraro (Contact Author)

Middlesex University ( email )

The Burroughs
London, NW4 4BT
United Kingdom

Jonathan Sippel

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Bonan Zhao

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Levin Hornischer

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Morgan Savary

Ecole Centrale Marseille ( email )

Technopole de Chateau-Gombert
Marseille, 13013
France

Zoi Terzopoulou

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Pierre Faucher

Ecole Centrale Marseille ( email )

Technopole de Chateau-Gombert
Marseille, 13013
France

Simone Griffioen

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

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