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Measuring the Welfare Effects of Shame and Pride

Author

Listed:
  • Luigi Butera
  • Robert Metcalfe
  • William Morrison
  • Dmitry Taubinsky

Abstract

Public recognition is frequently used to motivate desirable behavior, yet its welfare effects—such as costs of shame or gains from pride—are rarely measured. We develop a portable empirical methodology for measuring and monetizing social image utility, and we deploy it in experiments on exercise and charitable behavior. In all experiments, public recognition motivates desirable behavior but creates highly unequal image payoffs. High-performing individuals enjoy significant utility gains, while low-performing individuals incur significant utility losses. We estimate structural models of social signaling, and we use the models to explore the social efficiency of public recognition policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Luigi Butera & Robert Metcalfe & William Morrison & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2022. "Measuring the Welfare Effects of Shame and Pride," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 112(1), pages 122-168, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:112:y:2022:i:1:p:122-68
    DOI: 10.1257/aer.20190433
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    Cited by:

    1. Ericson, Keith M. Marzilli, 2020. "When consumers do not make an active decision: Dynamic default rules and their equilibrium effects," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 369-385.
    2. Simon Haenni & Guilherme Lichand, 2020. "Harming to signal: child marriage vs. public donations in Malawi," ECON - Working Papers 348, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Mar 2021.
    3. Banerjee, Ritwik & Mustafi, Priyoma, 2020. "Using Social Recognition to Address the Gender Difference in Volunteering for Low Promotability Tasks," IZA Discussion Papers 13956, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Laura Derksen & Jason. T Kerwin & Natalia Ordaz Reynoso & Olivier Sterck, 2021. "Appointments: A More Effective Commitment Device for Health Behaviors," CSAE Working Paper Series 2021-13, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    5. Kessler, Judd B. & Low, Corinne & Singhal, Monica, 2021. "Social policy instruments and the compliance environment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 192(C), pages 248-267.
    6. Antinyan, Armenak & Asatryan, Zareh, 2019. "Nudging for tax compliance: A meta-analysis," ZEW Discussion Papers 19-055, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    7. Perino, Grischa & Schwirplies, Claudia, 2022. "Meaty arguments and fishy effects: Field experimental evidence on the impact of reasons to reduce meat consumption," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 114(C).
    8. Gauri, Varun & Jamison, Julian C. & Mazar, Nina & Ozier, Owen, 2019. "Motivating Bureaucrats through Social Recognition: External Validity — A Tale of Two States," IZA Discussion Papers 12251, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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