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We examine how the moral (or neutral) content of an issue influences the tendency to falsify attitudes, given varying social and monetary incentives to engage in such ‘preference falsification’. We conduct an incentivized two stage online experimental study where, in a prior first stage, attitude strength over moral and neutral issues is elicited. Then, in the second stage participants in groups of ten were asked to express their preferences regarding the moral or neutral issues for each possible combination of supporters and opposers in their group, each associated with varying monetary payoffs. More than half of the participants falsify their preferences between the two phases for both moral and neutral frames. The rate is significantly lower for the moral (vs neutral) issues. Participants’ average monetary cost to avoid falsifying preferences is higher in moral treatments, and increases with the level of attitude strength.


ESI Working Paper 24-11



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