Robbing a robber is not robbing

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23 May 2021

Do outside observers judge differently an identical act of robbery if the victim is known as a robber rather than an honest individual? Popular wisdom, as magnified in several proverbs, suggests that most people do. We examine such a tenet using an experimental survey in Algeria (North-Africa). We also examine whether a differentiated moral judgement holds for two occupations tarnished with the reputation of robbing consumers, namely bankers and customs officials. Our findings support the proverb that ‘robbing a robber is not robbing’ and even its extension to custom officials. However, robbing a banker has not been found to be significantly different from robbing an honest individual. We draw several business and policy implications.