IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

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
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. Rachel Croson & Simon Gächter, 2009. "The Science of Experimental Economics," Post-Print hal-00737932, HAL.
  3. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4qz9k8vg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  4. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 457, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Cleave, Blair L. & Nikiforakis, Nikos & Slonim, Robert, 2010. "Is There Selection Bias in Laboratory Experiments?," Working Papers 2010-01, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
  6. David Masclet & Marie Claire Villeval, 2008. "Punishment, inequality, and welfare : a public good experiment," Post-Print halshs-00196567, HAL.
  7. Loewenstein, George, 1999. "Experimental Economics from the Vantage-Point of Behavioural Economics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(453), pages F23-34, February.
  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. Lisa Cameron, 1995. "Raising the Stakes in the Ultimatum Game: Experimental Evidence From Indonesia," Working Papers 724, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  10. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Zehnder, Christian, 2005. "The Behavioural Effects of Minimum Wages," CEPR Discussion Papers 5115, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. E. Fehr & John A. List, . "The Hidden Costs and Returns of Incentives - Trust and Trustworthiness among CEOs," IEW - Working Papers 134, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  14. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
  15. 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.
  16. Kosfeld Michael & Okada Akira & Riedl Arno, 2006. "Institution Formation in Public Goods Games," Research Memorandum 029, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  17. Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt, . "Asymmetric Inequality Aversion and Noisy Behavior in Alternating-Offer Bargaining Games," Virginia Economics Online Papers 329, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  18. Falk, Armin & Heckman, James J., 2009. "Lab Experiments Are a Major Source of Knowledge in the Social Sciences," IZA Discussion Papers 4540, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  19. Bénabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2004. "Incentives and Prosocial Behaviour," CEPR Discussion Papers 4633, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Ernst Fehr & Oliver Hart & Christian Zehnder, 2011. "Contracts as Reference Points--Experimental Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 493-525, April.
  21. Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus, 2006. "Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory," CEPR Discussion Papers 5768, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  22. Ernst Fehr & Alexander Klein & Klaus M Schmidt, 2007. "Fairness and Contract Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 121-154, 01.
  23. Gary E. Bolton & Rami Zwick & Elena Katok, 1998. "Dictator game giving: Rules of fairness versus acts of kindness," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 269-299.
  24. Bowles, Samuel & Hwang, Sung-Ha, 2008. "Social preferences and public economics: Mechanism design when social preferences depend on incentives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1811-1820, August.
  25. Todd L. Cherry & Peter Frykblom & Jason F. Shogren, 2002. "Hardnose the Dictator," Working Papers 02-06, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  26. 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.
  27. Gary Charness & Martin Dufwenberg, 2006. "Promises and Partnership," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(6), pages 1579-1601, November.
  28. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  29. 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.
  30. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2008. "Representative Trust And Reciprocity: Prevalence And Determinants," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 46(1), pages 84-90, 01.
  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. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., . "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Chapters in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  33. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
  34. David K Levine, 1997. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2047, David K. Levine.
  35. 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.
  36. Gary Charness & Marie Claire Villeval, 2009. "Cooperation and Competition in Intergenerational Experiments in the Field and in the Laboratory," Post-Print halshs-00371984, HAL.
  37. Carpenter, Jeffrey & Verhoogen, Eric & Burks, Stephen, 2005. "The effect of stakes in distribution experiments," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 86(3), pages 393-398, March.
  38. John A. List, 2009. "Social Preferences: Some Thoughts from the Field," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 563-583, 05.
  39. Tyran, Jean-Robert & Sausgruber, Rupert, 2006. "A little fairness may induce a lot of redistribution in democracy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 469-485, February.
  40. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  41. Gary E Bolton & Rami Zuwick, 2010. "Anonymity versus punishments in ultimatum bargaining," Levine's Working Paper Archive 826, David K. Levine.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  46. Bartling, Björn & von Siemens, Ferdinand A., 2010. "The intensity of incentives in firms and markets: Moral hazard with envious agents," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 598-607, June.
  47. Dufwenberg, Martin & Muren, Astri, 2006. "Generosity, anonymity, gender," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 42-49, September.
  48. W. Bentley MacLeod, 2007. "Can Contract Theory Explain Social Preferences?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 187-192, May.
  49. 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.
  50. Schmidt, Carsten & Zultan, Ro'i, 2005. "The uncontrolled social utility hypothesis revisited," Papers 05-29, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
  53. Charness, Gary & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2003. "Promises & Partnership," Research Papers in Economics 2003:3, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  54. Carsten Schmidt & Ro'i Zultan, 2005. "The Uncontrolled Social Utility Hypothesis Revisited," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 3(33), pages 1-7.
  55. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:3:y:2005:i:33:p:1-7 is not listed on IDEAS
  56. 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.
  57. 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.
  58. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2007. "Paying Respect," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 135-150, Fall.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  62. 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.
  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.
  65. 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.
  66. 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.
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: (Zhang, Lei)

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.