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Does Studying Economics Discourage Cooperation? Watch What We Do, Not What We Say or How We Play

  • Anthony M. Yezer
  • Robert S. Goldfarb
  • Paul J. Poppen

Based on what economics students say and how they play games, economics students appear less cooperative than other students. But appearances can be deceiving: the evidence in this paper indicates that the actual behavior of economics students is more cooperative than that of other students. The authors carried out a 'lost letter' experiment, in which envelopes containing currency were dropped in classrooms and the return rate measured. In this test of actual behavior, the economics students returned a significantly larger percentage of lost letters, exhibiting more cooperative behavior than other students.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.10.1.177
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 10 (1996)
Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
Pages: 177-186

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:10:y:1996:i:1:p:177-86
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.10.1.177
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  1. Robert H. Frank & Thomas Gilovich & Dennis T. Regan, 1993. "Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 159-171, Spring.
  2. Peter A. Diamond & Jerry A. Hausman, 1994. "Contingent Valuation: Is Some Number Better than No Number?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 45-64, Fall.
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