Are preferences for allocating harm rational?

The allocation of nonmonetary harm is an important—yet understudied—domain of choice. Using a modified Dictator Game, we asked 27 participants to allocate a harmful event (time of putting their hand in ice water) between themselves and an anonymous stranger. We found substantially less coherent, and more egalitarian, preferences compared to other studies that ask participants to allocate monetary endowments. Specifically, 26% of participants made choices inconsistent with utility maximization, and 78% of participants behaved in an egalitarian manner. In comparable studies of monetary gains, only 2% were inconsistent and 30% egalitarian. The results suggest that the focus on monetary gains likely overestimates the rationality of other-regarding preferences and underestimates egalitarianism. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)