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The Economic Research Institute, Stockholm School of Economics SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance

No 635:
Economic Influences on Moral Values

Robert Östling ()

Abstract: This paper extends standard consumer theory to account for endogenous moral motivation. Building on cognitive dissonance theory, I show how moral values are affected by changes in prices and income. The key insight is that changes in prices and income that lead to higher consumption of an immoral good also affect the moral values held by the consumer so that the good is considered less immoral. A preliminary empirical analysis based on the World Values Survey is consistent with the model's predictions with respect to income.

Keywords: Consumer theory; moral values; endogenous preferences; cognitive dissonance; self-serving bias; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: D11; (follow links to similar papers)

27 pages, September 21, 2006, Revised November 7, 2008

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This paper is published as:
Östling, Robert, (2009), 'Economic Influences on Moral Values', The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy (Advances), Vol. 9, No. 1

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