Testing Guilt Aversion
AbstractGuilt averse individuals experience a utility loss if they believe they let someone down. In particular, generosity depends on what the donor believes that the recipient expects to receive. In experimental work, several authors have identified a positive correlation between such second-order donor beliefs and generous behavior, as predicted by the guilt aversion hypothesis. However, the correlation could alternatively be due to a “false consensus effect,” i.e., the tendency of people to believe others to think like themselves. In order to test the guilt aversion hypothesis more rigorously, we conduct three separate experiments: a dictator game experiment, a complete information trust game experiment, and a hidden action trust game experiment. In the experiments we inform donors about the beliefs of their respective recipients, while eliciting these beliefs so as to maximize recipient honesty. The correlation between generous behavior and donors’ second-order beliefs is close to zero in all three experiments.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Stockholm School of Economics in its series Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance with number 683.
Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 07 Dec 2007
Date of revision:
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More information through EDIRC
guilt aversion; beliefs; generosity; experiments;
Other versions of this item:
- C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
- D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2007-12-15 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2007-12-15 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-EXP-2007-12-15 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-SOC-2007-12-15 (Social Norms & Social Capital)
- NEP-UPT-2007-12-15 (Utility Models & Prospect Theory)
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