More Moral Wiggle Room

A new lab experiment confirms results reported a year ago:  people prefer to not know how their actions effect others, when such knowledge would induce them to sacrifice to benefit others. 

In the baseline version, each subject chose between five pairs of numbers (x,y), where x is how much money he gets and y is how much money some other subject gets.  In each pair (x,y,) each number was drawn randomly from the set {1,1,4,4,7}.  Here 40 of 63 subjects appeared to put heavy weight on benefits to the other person in making their choices.

In the other treatment, each subject was shown only the x value for each of his five pairs, but could at no cost choose to see the y values.  Of the 40 subjects who in the baseline version heavily weighted benefits to others, only 10 of them chose to see the y values.  The others just picked the best option for them. 

"If only people knew how bad things are here in Z-land, they’d do something."  Yes, and maybe that is why they do not know. 

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