Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Road to Hell: An Experimental Study of Intentions

Contents:

Author Info

  • Charness, Gary
  • Levine, David I.

Abstract

Do people care about intentions? Good intentions often do not produce good results when a person tries to do something nice for someone else. In this paper, we ask under what circumstances do people pay attention to outcomes and under what circumstances do they focus on intentions. While the aphorism in the paper’s title suggests that outcomes play a larger role than intentions, our study questions this assumption. Some previous studies in economics suggest that the process determining an outcome affects responses to that outcome. Our experimental design improves upon previous methodology by introducing an element of chance in the wage-determination process in an experimental labor market. Using this device, we find that both intentions and outcomes matter; rates of punishment and reward are sensitive to both the wage a firm decides to pay and the (higher or lower) wage actually received after chance intervenes. We feature a specific comparison, in which workers receive identical wages either (1) after a high wage assignment and bad luck, or (2) after a low wage assignment and good luck. Despite identical wages and identical relative payoffs, workers’ responses differ greatly across these contingencies. Our data strongly support the role of intentions, with negative reciprocity overwhelming distributional considerations given low wages.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/4xs9d0nz.pdf;origin=repeccitec
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara in its series University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series with number qt4xs9d0nz.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: 05 Aug 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt4xs9d0nz

Contact details of provider:
Postal: 2127 North Hall, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9210
Phone: (805) 893-3670
Fax: (805) 893-8830
Web page: http://www.escholarship.org/repec/ucsbecon_dwp/
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords: Intentions; Reciprocity; Experiment; Rent-sharing; Process; Attribution;

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
  2. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 1999. "Is There a Discretion in Wage Setting? A Test Using Takeover Legislation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(3), pages 535-554, Autumn.
  3. Gary Charness & Brit Grosskopf, 1999. "Relative payoffs and happiness: An experimental study," Economics Working Papers 436, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jan 2000.
  4. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  5. Blanchflower, David G & Oswald, Andrew J & Garrett, Mario D, 1990. "Insider Power in Wage Determination," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 57(226), pages 143-70, May.
  6. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  8. Brandts, J. & Sola, C., 1998. "Reference Points and Negative Reciprocity in Simple Sequential Games," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 425.98, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  9. Charness, Gary B & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0dc3k4m5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  10. Bolton, G.E. & Brandts, J. & Ockenfels, A., 1997. "Measuring Motivations for the Reciprocal Responses Observed in a Simple Dilemma Game," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 400.97, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  11. Gary E. Bolton & Jordi Brandts & Elena Katok, 2000. "How strategy sensitive are contributions?," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 367-387.
  12. Offerman, Theo, 2002. "Hurting hurts more than helping helps," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(8), pages 1423-1437, September.
  13. Blount, Sally, 1995. "When Social Outcomes Aren't Fair: The Effect of Causal Attributions on Preferences," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 131-144, August.
  14. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Daniel Houser & Erte Xiao & Kevin McCabe & Vernon Smith, 2005. "When Punishment Fails: Research on Sanctions, Intentions and Non- Cooperation," Experimental 0502001, EconWPA, revised 18 Feb 2005.
  2. Sutter, Matthias, 2007. "Outcomes versus intentions: On the nature of fair behavior and its development with age," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 69-78, January.
  3. Magnus Hoffmann & Martin Kolmar, 2013. "Distributional Preferences in Probabilistic and Share Contests," CESifo Working Paper Series 4184, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Gerald Eisenkopf & Urs Fischbacher, 2012. "Naive Responses to Kind Delegation," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2012-19, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt4xs9d0nz. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lisa Schiff).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.