Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Face-saving or fair-minded: What motivates moral behavior?

Alexander W. Cappelen  Trond Halvorsen  Erik Ø. Sørensen  Bertil Tungodden
Journal of the European Economic Association (2017) 15 (3): 540-557.


We study the relative importance of intrinsic moral motivation and extrinsic social motivation in explaining moral behavior. The key feature of our experiment is that we introduce a dictator game design that manipulates these two sources of motivation. In one set of treatments, we manipulate the moral argument for sharing, in another we manipulate the information given to the recipient about the context of the experiment and the dictator's decision. The paper offers two main findings. First, we provide evidence of intrinsic moral motivation being of fundamental importance. Second, we show that extrinsic social motivation matters and is crowding-in with intrinsic moral motivation. We also show that intrinsic moral motivation is strongly associated with self-reported charitable giving outside the lab and with political preferences.

The research is here.