The power of moral words: loaded language generates framing effects in the extreme dictator game

Capraro, Valerio ORCID: and Vanzo, Andrea (2019) The power of moral words: loaded language generates framing effects in the extreme dictator game. Judgment and Decision Making, 14 (3) . pp. 309-317. ISSN 1930-2975 [Article]

PDF - Published version (with publisher's formatting)
Download (350kB) | Preview
PDF - Final accepted version (with author's formatting)
Download (331kB) | Preview


Understanding whether preferences are sensitive to the frame has been a major topic of debate in the last decades. For example, several works have explored whether the dictator game in the give frame gives rise to a different rate of pro-sociality than the same game in the take frame, leading to mixed results. Here we contribute to this debate with two experiments. In Study 1 (N = 567) we implement an extreme dictator game in which the dictator either gets $0.50 and the recipient gets nothing, or the opposite (i.e., the recipient gets $0.50 and the dictator gets nothing). We experimentally manipulate the words describing the available actions using six terms, from very negative (e.g., stealing) to very positive (e.g., donating) connotations. We find that the rate of pro-sociality is affected by the words used to describe the available actions. In Study 2 (N = 221) we ask brand new participants to rate each of the words used in Study 1 from “extremely wrong” to “extremely right” . We find that these moral judgements explain the framing effect in Study 1. In sum, our studies provide evidence that framing effects in an extreme Dictator game can be generated using morally loaded language.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > Business School > Economics
Item ID: 28840
Notes on copyright: Copyright notice (Judgment and Decision Making, revised 3/12/2013)
As of March 2013, these articles are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (cc-by). This license, used by many other open-access journals, allows all uses of each article but requires attribution. It is not retroactive to articles published earlier, so the original copyright statement still applies to them.
That statement (below) was intended to be fully consistent with the new cc-by license, with one exception: the cc-by license allows commercial use without the author's permission (but with attribution). Commercial uses include indexing (which we already allow), data mining that will lead to closed-access publications, and inclusion in edited books. Although the cc-by license allows commercial use without requiring royalty payment to authors, such royalties are usually quite small anyway, and some publishers may pay royalties even though the license does not require it.
For now, the cc-by license applies to data, code and stimuli, except when it conflicts with a prior copyright. Common courtesy requires informing authors of new uses of their data, as well as acknowledging the source.
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Valerio Capraro
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2020 10:01
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2020 10:06

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.