MIP network member Bertil Tungodden met with HCEO to discuss his research on understanding people's moral motivation and how that shapes human behavior. He is particularly interested in the idea of personal responsibility, which he notes is very important idea in the Western world.
"I really want to understand more closely exactly what this means, and what kind of choices people actually are held responsible for, and how this influences people's views on what inequalities are fair and what inequalities are unfair," he says.
Along these lines, Tungodden is interested in trying to understand how our ideas of fairness are shaped. He notes how the environment and the society that we grow up can greatly influence these views. To study this issue, Tungodden and colleagues recently conducted a large-scale experimental study on how adults make distributive choices between children. They conducted the experiment in Shanghai, China and in Norway, and the differences were striking.
"The difference in inequality acceptance between Shanghai and Norway for 5 year-old kids is just enormous," he says. "Shanghai accepted huge levels of inequality while Norway completely equalized it."
"This is one way of getting a litlte bit at these questions of how we are shaped by the society we live in," he says.
Tungodden is Professor of Economics at the Norwegian School of Economics, Centre Director of the Centre of Excellence FAIR, and Co-Director of the research group The Choice Lab. He is also Co-Organizer of the 2019 HCEO-Fair Summer School on Socioeconomic Inequality Bergen.