‘Do the Right Thing’ for Whom? An Experiment on Ingroup Favouritism, Group Assorting and Moral Suasion
Forthcoming in Judgment and Decision Making
11 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2019 Last revised: 29 Feb 2020
Date Written: November 13, 2019
In this paper we investigate the effect of moral suasion on ingroup favouritism. We report a well-powered, pre-registered, two-stage 2x2 mixed-design experiment. In the first stage, groups are formed on the basis of how participants answer to a set of questions, concerning non-morally relevant issues in one treatment (assortativity on non-moral preferences), and morally relevant issues in another treatment (assortativity on moral preferences). In the second stage, participants choose how to split a given amount of money between participants of their own group and participants of the other group, first in the baseline setting and then in a setting where they are told to do what they believe to be morally right (moral suasion). Our main results are: (i) in the baseline, participants tend to favour their own group to a greater extent when groups are assorted according to moral preferences, compared to when they are assorted according to non-moral preferences; (ii) the net effect of moral suasion is to decrease ingroup favouritism, but there is also a non-negligible proportion of participants for whom moral suasion increases ingroup favouritism; (iii) the effect of moral suasion is substantially stable across group assortativity and four pre-registered individual characteristics (gender, political orientation, religiosity, pro-life vs pro-choice ethical convictions).
Keywords: moral suasion, ingroup favouritism, dictator game, moral preferences
JEL Classification: C70, C71, C72, C91, C92, D63, D64
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation