Choosing an equitable or efficient option: A distribution dilemma

Long Huang1, Wansheng Lei2, Fuming Xu2, Liang Yu3, Fujun Shi2
1School of Psychology, Jiangxi Normal University, and School of Humanities and Management, Wannan Medical College, People’s Republic of China
2School of Psychology, Jiangxi Normal University, People’s Republic of China
3School of Humanities and Management, Wannan Medical College, People’s Republic of China
Cite this article:  Huang, L., Lei, W., Xu, F., Yu, L., & Shi, F. (2019). Choosing an equitable or efficient option: A distribution dilemma. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 47(10), e8559.

Volume 47 Issue 10 | e8559 | Published: October 2019 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.8559

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We conducted a 3 × 3 × 2 experiment to verify the moral preference hypothesis and extend the boundary conditions of the moral frame effect. Participants played a trade-off game (TOG), in which they unilaterally choose between an equitable or efficient option. We manipulated the labeling of the options to describe the equitable versus efficient option as morally right, and controlled the amount of the stakes and division schemes in the TOG. We found there was a significant effect of moral frame when stakes were low in the TOG, and participants would choose a morally right option whether it was equitable or efficient. However, the effect of moral frame was nonsignificant when the stakes were high. In addition, the division schemes in the TOG had a great impact on the moral frame effect. Therefore, we found that when participants’ interest in the options remains the same or the changes are small, and other players’ interest changes greatly, the moral frame effect is not significant.

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