Are happier people less judgmental of other people's selfish behaviors? Experimental survey evidence from trust and gift exchange games

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • London School of Economics and Political Science, The (LSE)
  • University of Melbourne


What determines people's moral judgments of selfish behaviors? Here we study whether people's normative views in trust and gift exchange games, which underlie many situations of economic and social significance, are themselves functions of positive emotions. We use experimental survey methods to investigate the moral judgments of impartial observers empirically, and explore whether we could influence subsequent judgments by deliberately making some individuals happier. We find that moral judgments of selfish behaviors in the economic context depend strongly on the behavior of the interaction partner of the judged person, but their relationships are significantly moderated by an increase in happiness for the person making the judgment.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-123
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics
Early online date17 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


  • Happiness, Moral judgments, Trust games, Gift exchange games