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Cognitive Flexibility or Moral Commitment? Evidence of Anticipated Belief Distortion

Silvia Saccardo and Marta Serra-Garcia

No 8529, CESifo Working Paper Series from CESifo

Abstract: Moral behavior is more prevalent when individuals cannot easily distort their beliefs self-servingly. Do individuals seek to limit or enable their ability to distort beliefs? How do these choices affect behavior? Experiments with over 8,900 participants, including financial and legal professionals, show preferences are heterogeneous - 30% of participants prefer to limit belief distortion, while over 40% prefer to enable it, even if costly. A random assignment mechanism reveals that being assigned to the preferred environment is necessary for curbing or enabling self-serving behavior. Third parties can anticipate these effects, suggesting some sophistication about the cognitive constraints to belief distortion.

Keywords: belief distortion; morality; sophistication; commitment; experiments (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 D83 D91 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-exp, nep-neu and nep-ore
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