IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Big experimenter is watching you! Anonymity and prosocial behavior in the laboratory

  • Barmettler, Franziska
  • Fehr, Ernst
  • Zehnder, Christian

Researchers have demonstrated that the presence of people with social preferences has important economic implications. However, the empirical basis of this research relies to a large extent on experiments that do not provide anonymity between experimenter and subject. It has been argued that this lack of experimenter–subject anonymity may create selfish incentives to engage in seemingly other-regarding behavior. If this were the case, these experiments would overestimate the importance of social preferences. Previous studies provide mixed results and methodological differences within and across studies make it difficult to isolate the impact of experimenter–subject anonymity. In this paper we use a novel procedure that allows us to examine the impact of the exact same ceteris-paribus variation in anonymity on behavior in three of the most commonly used games in the social preference literature. We find that the introduction of experimenter–subject anonymity has no significant effect in any of the three games.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899825611001503
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Games and Economic Behavior.

Volume (Year): 75 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 17-34

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:75:y:2012:i:1:p:17-34
DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2011.09.003
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622836

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Joseph Henrich & Steve J. Heine & Ara Norenzayan, 2010. "The Weirdest People in the World?," Working Paper Series of the German Council for Social and Economic Data 139, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD).
  2. David Masclet & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2008. "Punishment, inequality, and welfare: a public good experiment," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 31(3), pages 475-502, October.
  3. Armin Falk & James J. Heckman, 2009. "Lab Experiments are a Major Source of Knowledge in the Social Sciences," CESifo Working Paper Series 2894, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Andreoni, J., 1994. "Warm-Glow Versus Cold-Prickle: The Effects of Positive and Negative Farming on Cooperation in Experiments," Working papers 9406, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  5. MacLeod, W.B. & Malcomson, J.M., 1997. "Motivation and markets," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 9720, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  6. Dufwenberg, Martin & Muren, Astri, 2006. "Generosity, anonymity, gender," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 42-49, September.
  7. Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr & Christian Zehnder, . "The Behavioral Effects of Minimum Wages," IEW - Working Papers 247, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  8. 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.
  9. Loewenstein, George, 1999. "Experimental Economics from the Vantage-Point of Behavioural Economics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(453), pages F23-34, February.
  10. Schmidt, Carsten & Zultan, Ro´i, 2005. "The Uncontrolled Social Utility Hypothesis Revisited," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 05-29, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  11. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 1997. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
  12. Ernst Fehr & John A. List, 2004. "THE HIDDEN COSTS AND RETURNS OF INCENTIVES — TRUST AND TRUSTWORTHINESS AMONG CEOs," Labor and Demography 0409012, EconWPA.
  13. Samuel Bowles & Sung-Ha Hwang, 2008. "Social Preferences and Public Economics: Mechanism Design when Social Preferences Depend on Incentives," Department of Economics University of Siena 530, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  14. Dohmen, Thomas J. & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe, 2008. "Representative trust and reciprocity: Prevalence and determinants," Munich Reprints in Economics 20057, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  15. Margin Dufwenberg & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000090, David K. Levine.
  16. Jeffrey Carpenter & Eric Verhoogen & Stephen Burks, 2003. "The Effect of Stakes in Distribution Experiments," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 03-28, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  17. Michael Kosfeld & Akira Okada & Arno Riedl, 2006. "Institution Formation in Public Goods Games," IEW - Working Papers 299, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  18. Gary Charness & Martin Dufwenberg, 2004. "Promises and Partnership," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000001, UCLA Department of Economics.
  19. Martin Brown & Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr, 2004. "Relational Contracts and the Nature of Market Interactions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(3), pages 747-780, 05.
  20. Gary E. Bolton & Rami Zwick & Elena Katok, 1998. "Dictator game giving: Rules of fairness versus acts of kindness," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 27(2), pages 269-299.
  21. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, . "A Theory of Reciprocity," IEW - Working Papers 006, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  22. James Andreoni, 1997. "Warm-glow versus cold-prickle: the effect of positive and negative framing on cooperation in experiments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 671, David K. Levine.
  23. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt3d04q5sm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  24. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  25. Lucy F. Ackert & Ann B. Gillette & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Mark Rider, 2009. "Risk Tolerance, Self-Interest, and Social Preferences," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2009-04, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, revised Feb 2011.
  26. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  27. David K. Levine, 1998. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(3), pages 593-622, July.
  28. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  29. James C. Cox & Cary A. Deck, 2005. "On the Nature of Reciprocal Motives," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(3), pages 623-635, July.
  30. Fehr, Ernst & Klein, Alexander & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2005. "Fairness and Contract Design," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 67, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  31. Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
  32. Bénabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2004. "Incentives and Prosocial Behaviour," CEPR Discussion Papers 4633, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  33. Gary E Bolton & Rami Zuwick, 2010. "Anonymity versus punishments in ultimatum bargaining," Levine's Working Paper Archive 826, David K. Levine.
  34. Bartling, Björn & Siemens, Ferdinand von, 2006. "The Intensity of Incentives in Firms and Markets: Moral Hazard with Envious Agents," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 115, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  35. Laury, Susan K. & Walker, James M. & Williams, Arlington W., 1995. "Anonymity and the voluntary provision of public goods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 365-380, August.
  36. Rachel Croson & Simon Gächter, 2009. "The Science of Experimental Economics," Post-Print hal-00737932, HAL.
  37. Todd L. Cherry & Peter Frykblom & Jason F. Shogren, 2002. "Hardnose the Dictator," Working Papers 02-06, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  38. Bruno S. Frey & Iris Bohnet, 1999. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 335-339, March.
  39. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2007. "Paying Respect," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 135-150, Fall.
  40. 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.
  41. John List, 2009. "Social preferences: Some thoughts from the field," Artefactual Field Experiments 00088, The Field Experiments Website.
  42. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A., 2000. "Asymmetric inequality aversion and noisy behavior in alternating-offer bargaining games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 1079-1089, May.
  43. Blair L. Cleave & Nikos Nikiforakis & Robert Slonim, 2010. "Is There Selection Bias in Laboratory Experiments?," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1106, The University of Melbourne.
  44. Jean-Robert Tyran & Rupert Sausgruber, 2002. "A Little Fairness may Induce a Lot of Redistribution in Democracy," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2002 2002-30, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  45. W. Bentley MacLeod, 2007. "Can Contract Theory Explain Social Preferences?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 187-192, May.
  46. Gary Charness & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2009. "Cooperation and Competition in Intergenerational Experiments in the Field and the Laboratory," Working Papers 0931, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  47. Robert Slonim & Alvin E. Roth, 1998. "Learning in High Stakes Ultimatum Games: An Experiment in the Slovak Republic," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(3), pages 569-596, May.
  48. Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus, 2006. "Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 5768, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  49. Charness, Gary B & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2006. "Promises & Partnership," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0127h86v, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  50. Michèle Belot & Raymond Duch & Luis Miller, 2010. "Who should be called to the lab? A comprehensive comparison of students and non-students in classic experimental games," Discussion Papers 2010001, University of Oxford, Nuffield College.
  51. Cameron, Lisa A, 1999. "Raising the Stakes in the Ultimatum Game: Experimental Evidence from Indonesia," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(1), pages 47-59, January.
  52. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  53. John A. List & Robert P. Berrens & Alok K. Bohara & Joe Kerkvliet, 2004. "Examining the Role of Social Isolation on Stated Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 741-752, June.
  54. Ernst Fehr & Oliver D. Hart & Christian Zehnder, 2008. "Contracts as Reference Points - Experimental Evidence," NBER Working Papers 14501, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  55. Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
  56. 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.
  57. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:3:y:2005:i:33:p:1-7 is not listed on IDEAS
  58. Burks, Stephen & Carpenter, Jeffrey & Goette, Lorenz, 2009. "Performance pay and worker cooperation: Evidence from an artefactual field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 458-469, June.
  59. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  60. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
  61. Dana, Jason & Cain, Daylian M. & Dawes, Robyn M., 2006. "What you don't know won't hurt me: Costly (but quiet) exit in dictator games," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 100(2), pages 193-201, July.
  62. Gary Charness & Marie Claire Villeval, 2009. "Cooperation and Competition in Intergenerational Experiments in the Field and in the Laboratory," Post-Print halshs-00371984, HAL.
  63. Frohlich, Norman & Oppenheimer, Joe & Bernard Moore, J., 2001. "Some doubts about measuring self-interest using dictator experiments: the costs of anonymity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 271-290, November.
  64. 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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:75:y:2012:i:1:p:17-34. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.