The Morality of Voluntary Cooperation

Cubitt, Robin P., Simon Gächter, and Ernesto María Gavassa Pérez. In Preparation. “The Morality of Voluntary Cooperation.”


We investigate experimentally the role of moral judgments in explaining the provision and maintenance of public goods. With three tasks we elicit (a) each subject's moral judgments of all strategy combinations of the public goods game; (b) each subject's contribution for each feasible contribution of the other group member (contribution preferences); (c) each subject's contribution and belief about the contribution of the other group member. We find that moral motivations to avoid blame and seek praise are one of the causal mechanisms underlying people's behaviour in providing and maintaining public goods. More specifically, we find that (i) on top of strong reciprocity, motivations to avoid being blameworthy explain people's contribution preferences; (ii) motivations to avoid being blameworthy and to seek being praiseworthy explain people's contribution decisions in maintenance problems even when controlling for the effect of contribution preferences. 

Last updated on 06/14/2022