Political Economy

Competing Image Concerns: Pleasures of Skill and Moral Values

  • Author:

    Armin Falk and Nora Szech

  • Date: January 2020
  • We study how two competing sources of positive image – the desire to appear skillful vs. moral – affect moral decision making. In four experimental conditions we vary the perceived importance of skill as well as moral relevance. In all conditions, participants completed an IQ test. To vary perceived importance of the skill motive, we either framed the IQ test as an “IQ test”, or as a simple “questionnaire”. Variation in moral consequences was implemented in adding negative externalities in response to correctly answered questions. Our results show that the desire for documenting skillfulness causally reduces moral behavior.