Responsibility and effort in an experimental labor market
Previous indirect evidence suggests that impulses towards pro-social behavior are diminished when an external authority is responsible for an outcome. The responsibility-alleviation effect states that a shift of responsibility to an external authority dampens internal impulses toward honesty, loyalty, or generosity. In a gift-exchange experiment, we find that subjects respond with more generosity (higher effort) when wages are determined by a random process than when assigned by a third party, indicating that even a slight shift in perceived responsibility for the final payoffs can change behavior. Responsibility-alleviation can be a factor in economic environments featuring substantial personal interaction.
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- Ernst Fehr & Georg Kirchsteiger & Arno Riedl, 1993.
"Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-459.
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- 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.
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