IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Public goods games and psychological utility: Theory and evidence


  • Dhami, Sanjit
  • Wei, Mengxing
  • al-Nowaihi, Ali


We consider a theoretical model of a public goods game that incorporates reciprocity, guilt-aversion/surprise-seeking, and the attribution of intentions behind these emotions. In order to test our predictions, we implement the ‘induced beliefs method’ and a within-subjects design, using the strategy method. We find that all our psychological variables contribute towards the explanation of contributions. Guilt-aversion is pervasive at the individual-level and the aggregate-level and it is relatively more important than surprise-seeking. Our between-subjects analysis confirms the results of the within-subjects design.

Suggested Citation

  • Dhami, Sanjit & Wei, Mengxing & al-Nowaihi, Ali, 2019. "Public goods games and psychological utility: Theory and evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 361-390.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:167:y:2019:i:c:p:361-390
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2017.11.002

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Attanasi, Giuseppe & Rimbaud, Claire & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2018. "Embezzlement and Guilt Aversion," IZA Discussion Papers 11956, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item


    D01; D03; H41; Public goods games; Psychological game theory; Reciprocity; Surprise-seeking/guilt-aversion; Attribution of intentions; Induced beliefs method; Within and between subjects designs;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:167:y:2019:i:c:p:361-390. 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: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.