We study the extent to which a person’s moral preferences can be inferred from their choices, and how behaviors that appear deontologically motivated should be interpreted. Comparing direct elicitation (DE) and multiple-price list (MPL) mechanisms, we characterize how image motives inflate the extent of prosocial behavior. The resulting signalling bias is shown to depend on the interaction between elicitation method and visibility level: it is greater under DE for low reputation concerns, and greater under MPL for high ones. We test the model’s predictions in an experiment with life-saving donations and find the key crossing effect predicted by the theory.
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