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

How much is a friend worth?: directed altruism and enforced reciprocity in social networks

Contents:

Author Info

  • Stephen Leider
  • Markus M. Möbius
  • Tanya Rosenblat
  • Quoc-Anh Do

Abstract

We conduct field experiments in a large real-world social network to examine why decision-makers treat their friends more generously than strangers. Subjects are asked to divide a surplus between themselves and named partners at varying social distances, but only one of these decisions is implemented. We decompose altruistic preferences into baseline altruism towards strangers, and directed altruism towards friends. In order to separate the motives that are altruistic from the ones that anticipate a future interaction or repayment, we implement an anonymous treatment in which neither player is told at the end of the experiment which decision was selected for payment, and a non-anonymous treatment where both players are told the outcome. Moreover, in order to distinguish between different future interaction channels—including signaling one’s propensity to be generous and enforced reciprocity, where the decision-maker grants the partner a favor because she expects it to be repaid in the future—the experiments include games where transfers both increase and decrease social surplus. We find that decision-makers vary widely in their baseline altruism, but pass at least 50 percent more surplus to friends as opposed to strangers when decision-making is anonymous. Under non-anonymity, transfers to friends increase by an extra 24 percent relative to strangers, but only in games where transfers increase social surplus. This effect increases with the density of the social network structure between both players. Our findings are well explained by enforced reciprocity, but not by signaling or preference-based reciprocity. We also find that partners’ expectations are well attuned to directed altruism, but that they completely ignore the decision-makers’ baseline altruism. Partners with higher baseline altruism have friends with higher baseline altruism and, therefore, are treated better by their friends.

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.bostonfed.org/economic/wp/wp2007/wp0711.htm
Download Restriction: no

File URL: http://www.bostonfed.org/economic/wp/wp2007/wp0711.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 07-11.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:07-11

Contact details of provider:
Postal: 600 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02210
Phone: 617-973-3397
Fax: 617-973-4221
Email:
Web page: http://www.bos.frb.org/
More information through EDIRC

Order Information:
Email:

Related research

Keywords: Altruism;

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

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. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. Bénabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2003. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," IDEI Working Papers 389, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised Jan 2006.
  3. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  4. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  5. Dean Karlan & Markus Mobius & Tanya Rosenblat & Adam Szeidl, 2009. "Trust and Social Collateral," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1307-1361, August.
  6. Andreoni, James & Vesterlund, Lise, 2001. "Which is the Fair Sex? Gender Differences in Altruism," Staff General Research Papers 1951, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  7. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4qz9k8vg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  8. James Andreoni, 2001. "Giving According to GARP," Theory workshop papers 339, UCLA Department of Economics.
  9. Margin Dufwenberg & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000090, David K. Levine.
  10. Edward L. Glaeser & David I. Laibson & José A. Scheinkman & Christine L. Soutter, 2000. "Measuring Trust," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 811-846, August.
    • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Raymond Fisman & Shachar Kariv & Daniel Markovits, 2005. "Individual Preferences for Giving," Game Theory and Information 0504007, EconWPA.
  12. Brañas Garza, Pablo & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Cobo Reyes, Ramón & Jiménez, Natalia & Ponti, Giovanni, 2006. "Altruism in the (Social) Network," DFAEII Working Papers 2006-04, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
    • Kovarik, Jaromir & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Brañas Garza, Pablo & Jiménez, Natalia & Ponti, Giovanni & Cobo Reyes, Ramón, 2009. "Altruism and Social Integration," IKERLANAK 2009-35, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
  13. Chaim Fershtman & Uri Gneezy, 2001. "Discrimination In A Segmented Society: An Experimental Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 351-377, February.
  14. Kovarik, Jaromir & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Brañas Garza, Pablo & Jiménez, Natalia & Ponti, Giovanni & Cobo Reyes, Ramón, 2009. "Altruism and Social Integration," DFAEII Working Papers 2009-05, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
    • Kovarik, Jaromir & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Brañas Garza, Pablo & Jiménez, Natalia & Ponti, Giovanni & Cobo Reyes, Ramón, 2009. "Altruism and Social Integration," IKERLANAK 2009-35, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
  15. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  16. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
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. Michael, Cayley, 2008. "Introducing Social Capital Value Add: Manifesto for New Social Network Structural Management of Corporate Value," MPRA Paper 8641, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Ligon, Ethan A. & Schechter, Laura, 2011. "The Value of social networks in rural Paraguay," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt7507w5zw, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  3. Amparo Urbano, 2011. "SEA Presidential address: Group connectivity and cooperation," SERIEs, Spanish Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 139-158, June.
  4. Coralio Ballester & Pablo Brañas-Garza & María Paz Espinosa, 2008. "Peer effects in public contributions: theory and experimental evidence," ThE Papers 08/04, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
  5. Onur Ozgur & Alberto Bisin, 2011. "Dynamic linear economies with social interactions," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000036, David K. Levine.

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:fip:fedbwp:07-11. 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: (Catherine Spozio).

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.