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Morality and trust in impersonal relationships

Tim Bonowski and Gerhard Minnameier

Journal of Economic Psychology, 2022, vol. 90, issue C

Abstract: This paper investigates the role of moral norms as a social institution in anonymous interactions in trust games. We argue that morality functions as a social norm and therefore comes with specific moral punishments and rewards. Since these moral incentives are confounded with material incentives in the trust game, an augmented version of the game is used, in which moral communication without material consequences is possible. We conduct an experiment that offers participants the opportunity to give morally relevant feedback in ten trust games with random re-matching and under anonymity. In comparison with the original trust game, we find higher levels of both trust and trustworthiness in the augmented game. We also find that these levels remain stable when moral communication is available.

Keywords: Trust; Trust game; Social norms; Moral communication; Moral decision making (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C70 C91 D83 D90 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2022.102513

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