Egoism vs. Altruism: Does Intermediation Reduce Altruism?

15 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2017

See all articles by Daniel L. Chen

Daniel L. Chen

Directeur de Recherche, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse School of Economics, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, University of Toulouse Capitole, Toulouse, France

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

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

Chen, Daniel L., Egoism vs. Altruism: Does Intermediation Reduce Altruism? (2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2928173 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2928173

Daniel L. Chen (Contact Author)

Directeur de Recherche, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse School of Economics, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, University of Toulouse Capitole, Toulouse, France ( email )

Toulouse School of Economics
1, Esplanade de l'Université
Toulouse, 31080
France

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