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The short arm of guilt – An experiment on group identity and guilt aversion

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  • Morell, Alexander

Abstract

In a laboratory experiment, I test whether guilt aversion, i.e., a preference to fulfill the expectations of others, plays out more strongly if agents share an induced social identity. Participants play a dictator game in which they can condition their amount sent on recipients’ beliefs. Dictators either play with a recipient from their own group (ingroup treatment) or from the other group (outgroup treatment). I find that the positive influence of second-order beliefs on how much a dictator sends is stronger in the ingroup treatment. However, the way dictators react to very high expectations does not differ significantly between treatments. In contrast to previous work I do not find that amounts sent are an inversely u-shaped function of recipients’ expectations. Rather, and independently of the treatment, participants tend to ignore very high expectations.

Suggested Citation

  • Morell, Alexander, 2019. "The short arm of guilt – An experiment on group identity and guilt aversion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 332-345.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:166:y:2019:i:c:p:332-345
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.06.022
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Guilt aversion; Social identity; Beliefs; Generosity; Experiment; Psychological Game Theory;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations

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