Are Kantians Better Social Partners? People Making Deontological Judgments are Perceived to be More Prosocial than they Actually Are

34 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 F Griffioen

University of Amsterdam

Date Written: January 25, 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. We use two ways of identifying deontological choices. In a first set of three studies, we use a single moral dilemma whose consequentialist course of action requires a strong violation of Kant's practical imperative that humans should never be used solely as a mere means. In a second set of two studies, we use two moral dilemmas: one whose consequentialist course of action requires no violation of the practical imperative, and one whose consequentialist course of action requires a strong violation of the practical imperative; and we focus on people changing decision when passing from the former dilemma to the latter one, thereby revealing a strong reluctance to violate Kant's imperative. Using economic games, we take three measures of prosociality: trustworthiness, altruism, and cooperation. Our results procure converging evidence for a perception bias according to which people making deontological choices are believed to be more prosocial than those making consequentialist choices, but actually they are not so. Thus, these results provide a piece of evidence against the assumption that deontological judgments signal commitment to prosociality.

Keywords: deontology, consequentialism, cooperation, 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 F, Are Kantians Better Social Partners? People Making Deontological Judgments are Perceived to be More Prosocial than they Actually Are (January 25, 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 F Griffioen

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

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