The effects of online deliberation on altruistic preferences and moral reasoning

We are investigating the effect of online deliberation on subjects participating in a Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE). We explore the existence of a preference shift towards more altruistic preference in relation to text-based online communication between participants. We are also investigating the effect of deliberation on the prevalence of self-interested moral reasoning and other-regarding moral reasoning. The combination of online deliberation and DCEs has the potential to broaden the evaluative space of DCEs and presents an exciting opportunity to collect qualitative data on the reasons for participant choices in DCEs.

Our research examines existing quantitative and qualitative data from a choice experiment asking participants about their preference towards donating money to different charities. The choice options differed in the kind of charity (health based vs. a broader social focus), the amount to be donated, and the donation amount that would be matched by the researcher. The experiment consisted of 3 arms: Arm 1 asked individual participants to commit to a real donation funded out of their compensation; Arm 2 asked participants to make an individual choice for a real donation after discussing their options with another participant via online text-based communication; and Arm 3 participants engaged in online communication to come to a unanimous decision for a real donation.

HERU researchers involved in this research project: Mandy Ryan and Ruben Sakowsky

External collaborators: Emmanouil Mentzakis (University of Southampton)