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Does indignation lead to generosity? An experimental investigation

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  • Emmanuel PETIT (GREThA UMR CNRS 5113)

Abstract

We test the effect of emotions on moral behaviour in a one shot gift-exchange game. Using the emotional induction technique, we induce either positive or negative emotions to the subjects before they play the game. We also consider a control treatment, without any affect manipulation. Emotional induction was effective: participants who saw the shocking and appalling movie reported significantly stronger negative emotions and weaker positive emotions than those who saw the funny movie. We find that players’ choices differ significantly across emotional conditions: we observe essentially that second movers who experience positive or neutral emotions do reciprocate whereas subjects overwhelmed with indignation, anger or guilt feelings show a very strong unconditional generous behaviour and do not reciprocate at all. We argue that indignation has a strong proactive force which allows subjects to reveal to themselves their own true values.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée in its series Cahiers du GREThA with number 2009-10.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:grt:wpegrt:2009-10

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Keywords: Emotions; moral values; gift-exchange game;

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  1. Pablo Brañas-Garza, 2006. "Promoting Helping Behavior with Framing in Dictator games," ThE Papers 06/04, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
  2. Charness, Gary B, 2004. "Attribution And Reciprocity In An Experimental Labor Market," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt8rp6b18c, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  3. Jon Elster, 1998. "Emotions and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 47-74, March.
  4. Mónica C. Capra, 2004. "Mood-Driven Behavior in Strategic Interactions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 367-372, May.
  5. 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.
  6. Bosman, Ronald & Sutter, Matthias & van Winden, Frans, 2005. "The impact of real effort and emotions in the power-to-take game," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 407-429, June.
  7. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
  8. Kirchsteiger, Georg & Rigotti, Luca & Rustichini, Aldo, 2006. "Your morals might be your moods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 155-172, February.
  9. Konow, James & Earley, Joseph, 2008. "The Hedonistic Paradox: Is homo economicus happier," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 1-33, February.
  10. Ben-Shakhar, Gershon & Bornstein, Gary & Hopfensitz, Astrid & van Winden, Frans, 2007. "Reciprocity and emotions in bargaining using physiological and self-report measures," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 314-323, June.
  11. Lin, Chien-Huang & Chuang, Shih-Chieh & Kao, Danny T. & Kung, Chaang-Yung, 2006. "The role of emotions in the endowment effect," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 589-597, August.
  12. 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.
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