Speaker: Valerio Capraro, Middlesex University
Decades of experimental research show that people often pay costs to help others, even in one-shot anonymous interactions, when no direct nor indirect rewards seem to be at play. Standard theories of social preferences explain this pro-social attitude by assuming that people do not care only about their own monetary payoff, but they also care about the monetary payoff of others. In the past five years, however, this social preference framework has been challenged, as a number of experiments have shown that behavior in games such as the Dictator game, the Prisoner’s dilemma, the Ultimatum game, the Sender-Receiver game, and the Trade-Off game does not seem to be driven by social preferences, but it is best explained by general preferences for doing the right thing. According to this moral preference hypothesis, people care about doing what they think it is the right thing do to, beyond the monetary consequences that this action brings about. In this talk, I will review the literature on this topic, with a special focus on recent developments and open problems. This talk is based on a review article with Joe Halpern and Matjaz Perc, commissioned by the Journal of Economic Literature.