Choosing Less over More Money
The Love of Praiseworthiness and the Dread of Blameworthiness in One-Player Games
Why choose less money over more when no one is watching? A central tenet of economics is that this behaviour can be explained by intrinsic motivation. But what does intrinsic motivation entail? What encourages it? This paper answers these questions through a Smithian lens: moral motivation includes not only a naturally strong love of praise and dread of blame but also a natural, and stronger, love of being worthy of praise and dread of being worthy of blame, even if neither is necessarily given. I rely on quantitative and qualitative data from economic experiments to illustrate this claim. While the current scholarship on Smith has applied his theory to situations in which our actions either evoke reactions from others or have monetary consequences for them, I extend his insights to receiver games (Tjøtta 2019) and dice-rolling games (Fischbacher and Föllmi-Heusi 2013) aimed at eliciting self-regarding concerns, that is, actions affecting the interests of only ourselves. I argue that these games accentuate the strength of the love of praiseworthiness in guiding behaviour, emphasising its immediate reference to others and foundation in intentions along with outcomes.