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Exploiting one’s power with a guilty conscience: An experimental investigation of self-serving biases

Philipp E. Otto and Friedel Bolle

Journal of Economic Psychology, 2015, vol. 51, issue C, 79-89

Abstract: In our experimental investigation powerful managers use their discretion power to their own advantage and admit that their behavior is unfair. This contradicts studies stressing self-serving biases. Self-serving biases are often identified by asking people what fairness standards apply in situations with alternative income distributions. Nevertheless, when the response to a question is connected with a distributional decision, only the reply, but not necessarily the fairness standard, is biased. Social preference models envisage decisions as a compromise between self-interest and social concerns (norms). A model-based estimation of social concerns, as provided by this paper, is capable of identifying different sorts of self-serving biases. Higher income triggers higher fairness scores, but there are no indications that a relatively higher income compared to the peers is generally perceived as fairer than a relatively lower income.

Keywords: Moral behavior; Power; Self-serving bias; Public good games (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D03 D23 H41 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2015.08.005

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