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

Anonymous rituals

  • Hugh-Jones, David
  • Reinstein, David

Some social institutions reveal participants’ behavior in the aggregate, while concealing the identities of the participants. For example, individual church donations may be kept anonymous, while the total amount raised is publicized. This presents a puzzle in light of recent evidence that anonymity reduces contributions. We offer an explanation for this puzzle in the context of a model of costly signaling with two types of agents: conditionally cooperative (“good”) and uncooperative (“bad”). We consider costly participation in a community activity (e.g., tithing) as a signal of an individual's type. By signaling the presence of one more good type, this may lead other good types to contribute more in future, more important, collective goods problems (CGP's). Thus, if good types also value others’ contributions more than bad types, good types gain more from sending the signal. But if those who do not signal face exclusion, the signal would need to be made very costly to dissuade bad types from signaling. In contrast, if the institution is anonymous, so that it reveals only the total number of signals, then while signals cannot be used to exclude bad types, even an inexpensive signal may succeed in revealing the total number of good types. This information helps good types maximize the conditional cooperation component of their utility in the CGP, and under specified conditions, can increase expected CGP contributions. We characterize conditions under which an anonymous signaling institution increases expected welfare. We provide examples of institutions that may yield such benefits, including religion, music and dance, voting, charitable donations, and military traditions.

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/S0167268111001806
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 Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 81 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 478-489

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:81:y:2012:i:2:p:478-489
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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. Andrea Prat, 2002. "The wrong kind of transparency," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3679, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
  3. Gilat Levy, 2007. "Decision Making in Committees: Transparency, Reputation, and Voting Rules," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 150-168, March.
  4. Cooter Robert & Broughman Brian J, 2005. "Charity, Publicity, and the Donation Registry," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 2(3), pages 1-9, August.
  5. Daniel Rondeau & John List, 2003. "The impact of challenge gifts on charitable giving: an experimental investigation," Artefactual Field Experiments 00507, The Field Experiments Website.
  6. Keser, Claudia & van Winden, Frans, 2000. " Conditional Cooperation and Voluntary Contributions to Public Goods," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(1), pages 23-39, March.
  7. Austen-Smith, David & Banks, Jeffrey S., 2000. "Cheap Talk and Burned Money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 1-16, March.
  8. John A. List & David Lucking-Reiley, 2000. "The Effects of Seed Money and Refunds on Charitable Giving: Experimental Evidence from a University Capital Campaign," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0008, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  9. Dean S. Karlan, 2005. "Using Experimental Economics to Measure Social Capital And Predict Financial Decisions," Working Papers 909, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  10. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  11. David Card & Craig A. Olson, 1992. "Bargaining Power, Strike Duration, and Wage Outcomes: An Analysis of Strikes in the 1880s," NBER Working Papers 4075, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Harbaugh, William T, 1998. "The Prestige Motive for Making Charitable Transfers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 277-82, May.
  13. Bradley J. Ruffle & Richard H. Sosis, 2003. "Does It Pay To Pray? Evaluating the Economic Return to Religious Ritual," Experimental 0309002, EconWPA.
  14. Bengt Holmström, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 169-182.
  15. Reinstein, David & Riener, Gerhard, 2010. "Reputation and Influence in Charitable Giving: An Experiment," Economics Discussion Papers 2934, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  16. Dean Karlan, 2004. "Using experimental economics to measure social capital and predict financial decisions," Artefactual Field Experiments 00074, The Field Experiments Website.
  17. Andreoni, James & Petrie, Ragan, 2004. "Public goods experiments without confidentiality: a glimpse into fund-raising," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1605-1623, July.
  18. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2007. "Anonymity, Reciprocity, and Conformity: Evidence from Voluntary Contributions to a National Park in Costa Rica," Working Papers in Economics 245, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  19. Karlan, Dean & List, John, 2006. "Does Price Matter in Charitable Giving? Evidence from a Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment," Working Papers 13, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  20. Londregan, John & Vindigni, Andrea, 2006. "Voting as a Credible Threat," Papers 10-04-2006, Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy.
  21. Elinor Ostrom, 2000. "Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 137-158, Summer.
  22. Glazer, Amihai & Konrad, Kai A, 1996. "A Signaling Explanation for Charity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 1019-28, September.
  23. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
  24. George Stigler, 1972. "Economic competition and political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 91-106, September.
  25. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "Rationalizability, Learning, and Equilibrium in Games with Strategic Complementarities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1255-77, November.
  26. Schram, Arthur, 2000. "Sorting Out the Seeking: The Economics of Individual Motivations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 103(3-4), pages 231-58, June.
  27. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter & Ernst Fehr, . "Are People Conditionally Cooperative? Evidence from a Public Goods Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 016, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  28. Iannaccone, Laurence R, 1992. "Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-Riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 271-91, April.
  29. Bengt Holmstrom, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," NBER Working Papers 6875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. Michael Spence, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-374.
  31. Cooter, Robert D & Broughman, Brian, 2005. "Charity, Publicity, and the Donation Registry," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt9cm5h0qr, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  32. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
  33. Bradley Ruffle & Richard Sosis, 2003. "Religious ritual and cooperation: Testing for a relationship on israeli religious and secular kibbutzim," Artefactual Field Experiments 00103, The Field Experiments Website.
  34. Gilat Levy, 2007. "Decision–Making Procedures for Committees of Careerist Experts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 306-310, May.
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:jeborg:v:81:y:2012:i:2:p:478-489. 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.