Status Inequality, Moral Disengagement and Violence
31 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2017
Date Written: July 2017
This paper studies the causal effect of status differences on moral disengagement and violence. To measure violent behavior, in the experiment, a subject can inflict a painful electric shock on another subject in return for money. We exogenously vary relative status in the realm of sexual attractiveness. In three between-subject conditions, the assigned other subject is either of higher, lower or equal status. The incidence of electric shocks is substantially higher among subjects matched with higher- and lower-status others, relative to subjects matched with equal-status others. This causal evidence on the role of status inequality on violence suggests an important societal cost of economic and social inequalities.
Keywords: morality, violence, status, inequality, laboratory experiments
JEL Classification: A13, C91, D03, Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation