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Empathy, Guilt-Aversion and Patterns of Reciprocity

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  • V. Pelligra

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Abstract

This paper reports the results of an experiment aimed at investigating the link between empathy, anticipated guilt and pro-social behavior. In particular we test the hypothesis that empathy modulates the anticipatory effect of guilt in bargaining situations and, more specifically, that it correlates with subjects’ willingness to give and to repay trust in an investment game. We also control for the effect of individual risk attitude. Our main results show that empathy significantly influences players’ pattern of restitution in the investment game and that risk-propensity weakly affects the decision to trust; we also find a significant gender difference in the distribution of empathy. These results seem to indicate that empathy affects pro-social behavior in a more complex way than previously hypothesized by existing models of social preferences.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia in its series Working Paper CRENoS with number 201108.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cns:cnscwp:201108

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Related research

Keywords: trust; reciprocity; guilt-aversion; empathy;

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Cited by:
  1. Luca Stanca, 2011. "Social science and neuroscience: how can they inform each other?," International Review of Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 58(3), pages 243-256, September.
  2. Di Bartolomeo Giovanni & Papa Stefano, 2011. "Trust, reciprocity and altruism: An impossible addition," wp.comunite, Department of Communication, University of Teramo 0082, Department of Communication, University of Teramo.

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