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Near and Generous? Gift Propensity and Chosen Emotional Distance

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  • H. Eika, Kari

    ()
    (Ministry of Health and Care Services)

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    Abstract

    This experimental study asks whether generosity decreases emotional distance, a question pertinent to human service quality. Highly vulnerable service recipients may not enforce quality standards. Quality can then be viewed as an act of generosity, a gift from the provider to the recipient. For a human service provider that sympathizes with the recipient, delivering poor quality is psychologically costly. To reduce this cost she may increase emotional distance. Since human service quality presupposes social interaction and involvement, quality is reduced further. The mechanism – which can account for vicious and virtuous circles in the provision of quality – is explored in a binary dictator game where the recipients pay-off is uncertain. The dictator decides whether to know the recipients pay-off and how. Subjects are more eager to inquire about their recipients pay-off when they themselves have been generous, and to do so by contacting the recipient when the recipient correctly perceives that action to be kind.

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    File URL: https://www.sv.uio.no/econ/english/research/unpublished-works/working-papers/pdf-files/2011/Memo-06-2011.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Oslo University, Department of Economics in its series Memorandum with number 06/2011.

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    Length: 33 pages
    Date of creation: 10 Jul 2010
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:osloec:2011_006

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    Postal: Department of Economics, University of Oslo, P.O Box 1095 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway
    Phone: 22 85 51 27
    Fax: 22 85 50 35
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    Web page: http://www.oekonomi.uio.no/indexe.html
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    Related research

    Keywords: human services; emotional distance; cognitive dissonance; generosity; dictator game;

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    1. Broberg, Tomas & Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus, 2007. "Is generosity involuntary?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 32-37, January.
    2. Durán, Miguel A. & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Brañas Garza, Pablo, 2005. "The role of personal involvement and responsibility in dictatorial allocations: A classroom experiment," DFAEII Working Papers 2005-14, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
    3. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
    4. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
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