Understanding Paternalism

Understanding Paternalism

PROJECT DETAILS:

Project manager: Alexander W. Cappelen 

From the starting date: 01.03.2017

To the date of completion: 28.02.2021

  • Project summary

    Project summary

    The Research project Understanding Paternalism provides a truly novel approach to research on paternalism, by providing unique experimental studies of paternalism that can enhance our understanding of what drives paternalistic policies and paternalistic behavior in different spheres of society. The appropriate role of paternalistic behavior is a key issue in the political debate about the relationship between the state and is also at the heart of many interpersonal relationships, in particular the relationship between parents and their children. The proposed research project will conduct the first ever experiments to systematically examine how people make choices in situations where there is a trade-off between a person's freedom and autonomy and other moral values. The project takes a broader approach to paternalism than the existing literature, by moving beyond the focus of paternalism as being a feature of a hierarchical relationship, between the state and the citizen or between the parent and the child, to also study the nature of paternalistic behavior in nonhierarchical relationships. The project also introduces the concept of extended paternalism, which takes place when the paternalistic intervention is justified by being in the interest of some other moral value.

    The project has three main parts. In the first part of this research project, we study the nature of paternalism, by examining people's willingness to behave paternalistically in interpersonal relationship in large-scale incentivized and non-incentivized experiments involving nationally representative samples. The second part of the project provides unique experimental studies of paternalism in practice. The third part of the project launches an ambitious study of paternalism across the world, which uses large-scale experiments involving nationally representative samples in 20 countries to collect unique data on how paternalistic behavior varies across cultures and institutional frameworks.

    The research project Understanding Paternalism aims to achieve the following primary objectives:

    1.  Provide novel insights into the nature of paternalism, by examining people's willingness to restrict the freedom of others in large-scale incentivized and non-incentivized experiments involving nationally representative samples
    2. Conduct unique experimental research on paternalism in practice, with a focus on parents and children and paternalism within particular professions
    3. Use large-scale experiments involving nationally representative samples in 20 countries to collect unique data on how paternalistic behavior varies across cultures and institutional frameworks.

Core research team

Partly financed

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