Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Lund University, Department of Economics

No 2022:16: Moral Motive Selection in the Lying-Dictator Game

Kai Barron (), Robert Stüber () and Roel van Veldhuizen ()
Additional contact information
Kai Barron: WZB Berlin Social Science Center
Robert Stüber: NYU Abu Dhabi
Roel van Veldhuizen: Department of Economics, Lund University, Postal: School of Economics and Management, Box 7080, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: An extensive literature documents that people are willing to sacrifice personal material gain to adhere to a moral motive. Yet, less is known about what happens when moral motives are in conflict. We hypothesize that individuals engage in what we term “motive selection,” namely adhering to the moral motive that aligns with their self-interest. We test this hypothesis using a laboratory experiment that induces a conflict between two of the most-studied moral motives: fairness and truth-telling. In line with our hypothesis, our results show that individuals prefer to adhere to the moral motive that is more aligned with their self-interest.

Keywords: Motivated reasoning; dictator game; lying game; motives; moral dilemmas

JEL-codes: C91; D01; D63; D90

Language: English

63 pages, August 19, 2022

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