Experimental Essays on Morality and Perception

Grubiak, Kevin (2020) Experimental Essays on Morality and Perception. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This PhD thesis is a collection of three independent essays employing experimental methods to investigate the links between moral behaviour and perception. Chapter 1 explores the role of image concerns in promise keeping. In our baseline treatments, we use double dictator games which embed and vary opportunities for subjects to hide their selfishness through self- and other-deception. Adding opportunities for promise exchange, our data is consistent with social-image concerns as one motivator of promise keeping. We find no evidence of subjects engaging in self-deception to evade their promise-induced commitments. Chapter 2 explores motivated reasoning in a context where third-party bystanders can prevent future norm transgressions. For this purpose, we introduce the Third-Party Protection Game. In this game, a third-party player can invest own resources to protect a passive player’s endowment from being appropriated by a dictator. The game features uncertainty regarding the degree of protection needed. We hypothesise that third-parties will report conveniently biased, i.e., less cynical beliefs about dictators the costlier it is to protect. Our data only provides moderate support. What we do find however is that third-parties more generally and irrespective of the assigned cost overestimate dictator generosity. Chapter 3 introduces the Costless Sharing Game (CSG). In this game, a sharer first earns a resource by completing a task and is then offered the opportunity to share the resource at no personal cost with a recipient. We use the CSG to consider how sharing depends on moral reasoning based on entitlement and desert (“intrinsic moral motivation”) and on whether the context of the sharer’s decision is known by the recipient (“extrinsic social motivation”). We observe very little reluctance to share. Interestingly, we also find mild evidence of a treatment interaction which suggests less sharing when neither intrinsic moral nor extrinsic social arguments for sharing are present.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Economics
Depositing User: Jennifer Whitaker
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2021 15:16
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2021 15:16
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/79530


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