‘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

See all articles by Ennio Bilancini

Ennio Bilancini

Università degli studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia (UNIMORE) - Dipartimento di Economia Marco Biagi di Modena

Leonardo Boncinelli

University of Florence - Department of Economics and Management

Valerio Capraro

Middlesex University

Tatiana Celadin

IMT Institute for Advanced Studies, Students

Roberto Di Paolo

University of Alicante, Department of Economics

Date Written: November 13, 2019

Abstract

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

Bilancini, Ennio and Boncinelli, Leonardo and Capraro, Valerio and Celadin, Tatiana and Di Paolo, Roberto, ‘Do the Right Thing’ for Whom? An Experiment on Ingroup Favouritism, Group Assorting and Moral Suasion (November 13, 2019). Forthcoming in Judgment and Decision Making, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3486398 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3486398

Ennio Bilancini

Università degli studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia (UNIMORE) - Dipartimento di Economia Marco Biagi di Modena ( email )

Via Università 4
Modena, Modena 41121
Italy

Leonardo Boncinelli

University of Florence - Department of Economics and Management ( email )

Via delle Pandette, 9
Firenze, Florence 50127
Italy

Valerio Capraro (Contact Author)

Middlesex University ( email )

The Burroughs
London, NW4 4BT
United Kingdom

Tatiana Celadin

IMT Institute for Advanced Studies, Students ( email )

Piazza San Ponziano 6
Lucca
Italy

Roberto Di Paolo

University of Alicante, Department of Economics ( email )

Apartado de Correos 99
Alicante, Apartado d
Spain

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