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Setting Limits: Ethical Thresholds to the CEO-Worker Pay Gap
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  • Carmen Cervone,
  • Andrea Scatolon,
  • Michela Lenzi,
  • Anne Maass
Carmen Cervone
University of Padua

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Andrea Scatolon
University of Trento
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Michela Lenzi
University of Padua
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Anne Maass
NYU Abu Dhabi
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In the discussion about wage inequality, principles of fairness and need for incentives are juxtaposed as opposing motivations for wage inequality acceptance. While previous literature focused on ideal inequality, in one correlational and one preregistered experimental study (Ntotal = 473) we tested the hypothesis of a threshold of inequality acceptance. Participants were asked to indicate what a CEO should earn, ideally (i.e., ideal pay gap) and at maximum (i.e., highest acceptable pay gap), given the wage of a worker. Results showed that individuals generally indicated higher values for highest acceptable than for ideal pay gaps. In conclusion, these studies pave the way for new research on the cognitive and motivational underpinnings of attitudes towards economic inequalities.