Egoism vs. Altruism: Does Intermediation Reduce Altruism?
15 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2017
Date Written: 2016
What are the consequences of intermediating moral responsibility through complex organizations or transactions? This paper examines whether individuals become less moral when they know their choices are obfuscated under randomization. It reports the results of a data entry experiment in an online labor market. Individuals enter data, grade another individual’s work, and decide to split a bonus. However, before they report their decision, they are randomized into settings with different degrees of intermediation. Graders who are told the split might implemented by a new procurement algorithm are less generous than graders who are told their split might be averaged or randomly selected among other graders. This finding is consistent with the Beckerian view of egoist motivations for altruism.
Keywords: Normative Commitments, Other-Regarding Preferences, Charitable Donations, Field Experiment, Market Intermediation
JEL Classification: B51, C93, D63, D64, J15, K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation