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The (In)Elasticity of Moral Ignorance

Marta Serra-Garcia and Nora Szech

No 7555, CESifo Working Paper Series from CESifo

Abstract: Ignorance enables individuals to act immorally. This is well known in policy circles, where there is keen interest in lowering moral ignorance. In this paper, we study how the demand for moral ignorance responds to monetary incentives and how the demand curve for ignorance reacts to social norm messages. We propose a simple behavioral model in which individuals suffer moral costs when behaving selfishly in the face of moral information. In several experiments, we find that moral ignorance decreases by more than 30 percentage points with small monetary incentives, but we find no significant change with social norm messages and we document strong persistence of ignorance across moral contexts. Our findings indicate that rather simple messaging interventions may have limited effects on ignorance. In contrast, changes in incentives could be highly effective.

Keywords: information avoidance; morality; unethical behavior; social norms; moral reminders; social nudges (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 D83 D91 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp and nep-soc
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (6) Track citations by RSS feed

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Related works:
Working Paper: The (In)Elasticity of Moral Ignorance (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: The (in)elasticity of moral ignorance (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: The (in)elasticity of moral ignorance (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: The (in)elasticity of moral ignorance (2018) Downloads
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