Rational altruism vs. moral foundations: What drives Polish youth to help Ukrainian refugees?
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Department of Philosophy, Krakow University of Economics, Polska
Faculty of Economics and Management, Lazarski University, Polska
Department of Statistics, Wroclaw University of Economics and Business, Polska
These authors had equal contribution to this work
Submission date: 2023-08-01
Final revision date: 2023-10-28
Acceptance date: 2023-11-02
Publication date: 2023-12-27
Corresponding author
Katarzyna Anna Ostasiewicz   

Department of Statistics, Wroclaw University of Economics and Business, Wroclaw, Polska
Ekonomista 2023;(4):429-453
Data availability: The data and materials used in this study are publicly available in the RODBUK repository at:
This paper examines the moral factors that motivate altruistic behavior on the part of Polish students toward Ukrainian war refugees within the context of economic theories on altruism. An online survey is used to itemise the students’ altruistic activities, explore what they see as their moral obligations, and elicit their views on supporting refugees. The data are analyzed in relation to Jonathan Haidt’s five moral foundations using correlation analysis and logistic models. The findings suggest that Haidt’s care/harm foundation significantly influences altruistic conduct towards refugees. The fairness/reciprocity foundation is negatively correlated with supporting refugees when such support is perceived as unfair. Expanding the circle of moral obligations (referred to as loyalty circles) is shown to have a positive and mostly significant effect on altruistic behavior. Moreover, the study shows that some Polish students acted contrary to their stated social preferences by supporting Ukrainian refugees despite believing that it is unfair. The paper concludes that these findings challenge the mainstream economic theories on altruism.
This work was supported by the Krakow University of Economics under Project No. 084/EIT/2022/POT.
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