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Conscience accounting: emotional dynamics and social behaviour

Madarász, Kristóf ORCID: 0009-0008-8053-3937, Gneezy, Uri and Imas, Alex (2012) Conscience accounting: emotional dynamics and social behaviour. Theoretical economics paper series. Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, London, UK.

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We develop a simple dynamic model of decision making in the presence of moral constraints. Norm violations induce a temporal feeling of guilt that depreciates with time. Due to endogenous fluctuations of guilt, people exhibit a dynamic inconsistency in social preferences—a behavior we term conscience accounting. We test the predictions of the model through two experiments in which people first have to make an ethical decision, and subsequently decide whether to donate to charity. We find that those who chose unethically were more likely to donate than those who did not. As predicted, donation rates were higher when the opportunity to donate came sooner after the unethical choice than later. Combined, our theoretical and empirical findings suggest a mechanism by which prosocial behavior is likely to occur within temporal brackets following an unethical choice.

Item Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 The Authors
Divisions: Management
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D3 - Distribution
D - Microeconomics > D6 - Welfare Economics
D - Microeconomics > D9 - Intertemporal Choice and Growth
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2013 11:28
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 11:58

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