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

Avoiding the sharp tongue: Anticipated written messages promote fair economic exchange

  • Xiao, Erte
  • Houser, Daniel

Research in economics and psychology has established that informal non-monetary sanctions, particularly expressions of negative emotion or disapproval, can enforce fair economic exchange. Scholars, however, are only beginning to understand the reasons non-monetary sanctions affect economic outcomes. Here we provide evidence that a preference for avoiding written expression of disapproval, or negative emotion, plays an important role in promoting fair decision making. We study one-shot Dictator games where one subject has the right to determine a division of an amount of money between herself and her receiver. In relation to the standard game, we find significantly fewer earning-maximizing decisions when receivers can react to offers with ex post written messages. We further find that credible threats of monetary sanctions, while economically inefficient, are significantly more effective than written messages in deterring selfishness. Our data provide new perspectives on the role of communication in promoting economic efficiency in social environments, and support economic theories of decision incorporating psychological factors such as guilt, shame, and self-deception.

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/S0167-4870(08)00113-X
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 Psychology.

Volume (Year): 30 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 393-404

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:30:y:2009:i:3:p:393-404
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/joep

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. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Cooperation in Public-Goods Experiments: Kindness or Confusion?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 891-904, September.
  3. John Geanakoplos & David Pearce & Ennio Stacchetti, 2010. "Psychological Games and Sequential Rationality," Levine's Working Paper Archive 587, David K. Levine.
  4. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst, 2002. "Psychological Foundations of Incentives," CEPR Discussion Papers 3185, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Richard H. Thaler, 2000. "From Homo Economicus to Homo Sapiens," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 133-141, Winter.
  6. Jon Elster, 1998. "Emotions and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 47-74, March.
  7. Jean-Robert Tyran & Dirk Engelmann, 2005. "To Buy or Not to Buy? An Experimental Study of Consumer Boycotts in Retail Markets," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 72(285), pages 1-16, 02.
  8. David Dickinson, . "The carrot vs. the stick in work team motivation," Working Papers 2000-06, Utah State University, Department of Economics.
  9. Akerlof, George A & Dickens, William T, 1982. "The Economic Consequences of Cognitive Dissonance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 307-19, June.
  10. David Masclet & Charles Noussair & Steve Tucker & Marie Claire Villeval, 2003. "Monetary and non Monetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," Post-Print halshs-00144848, HAL.
  11. 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.
  12. Steven Shavell & A. Mitchell Polinsky, 2000. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 45-76, March.
  13. 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.
  14. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  15. Gary Charness & Martin Dufwenberg, 2006. "Promises and Partnership," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(6), pages 1579-1601, November.
  16. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  17. Daniel Houser & Erte Xiao & Kevin McCabe & Vernon Smith, 2005. "When punishment fails: Research on sanctions, intentions and non- cooperation," Experimental 0503001, EconWPA.
  18. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
  19. Kuang, Xi (Jason) & Weber, Roberto A. & Dana, Jason, 2007. "How effective is advice from interested parties?: An experimental test using a pure coordination game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 591-604, April.
  20. Elster, Jon, 1996. "Rationality and the Emotions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1386-97, September.
  21. 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.
  22. Todd L. Cherry & Peter Frykblom & Jason F. Shogren, 2002. "Hardnose the Dictator," Working Papers 02-06, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  23. Daniel Houser & Robert Kurzban, 2002. "Revisiting Kindness and Confusion in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1062-1069, September.
  24. James Andreoni & William T. harbaugh & Lise Vesterlund, 2002. "The Carrot or the Stick: Rewards, Punishments, and Cooperation," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers 2002-01, University of Oregon Economics Department, revised 20 Aug 2002.
  25. Scharlemann, Jorn P. W. & Eckel, Catherine C. & Kacelnik, Alex & Wilson, Rick K., 2001. "The value of a smile: Game theory with a human face," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 617-640, October.
  26. Miller, John H. & Butts, Carter T. & Rode, David, 2002. "Communication and cooperation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 179-195, February.
  27. Kandel, Eugene & Lazear, Edward P, 1992. "Peer Pressure and Partnerships," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 801-17, August.
  28. Rabin, Matthew, 1994. "Cognitive dissonance and social change," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 177-194, March.
  29. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2004. "Expressed Preferences and Behavior in Experimental Games," General Economics and Teaching 0407002, EconWPA.
  30. James Konow, 2000. "Fair Shares: Accountability and Cognitive Dissonance in Allocation Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1072-1091, September.
  31. Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker, 2005. "Combining Monetary and Social Sanctions to Promote Cooperation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(3), pages 649-660, July.
  32. Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 1999. "Collective action as a social exchange," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 341-369, July.
  33. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "A fine is a price," Natural Field Experiments 00258, The Field Experiments Website.
  34. Dufwenberg, Martin, 2002. "Marital investments, time consistency and emotions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 57-69, May.
  35. Huang, Peter H & Wu, Ho-Mou, 1994. "More Order without More Law: A Theory of Social Norms and Organizational Cultures," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 390-406, October.
  36. Steven Shavell, 2002. "Law versus Morality as Regulators of Conduct," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(2), pages 227-257.
  37. Erte Xiao & Daniel Houser, 2005. "Emotion expression in human punishment behavior," Experimental 0504003, EconWPA, revised 18 May 2005.
  38. Geanakoplos, John & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1989. "Psychological games and sequential rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 60-79, March.
  39. George Loewenstein, 2000. "Emotions in Economic Theory and Economic Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 426-432, May.
  40. Anderson, Lisa R & Stafford, Sarah L, 2003. "Punishment in a Regulatory Setting: Experimental Evidence from the VCM," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 91-110, July.
  41. Daniel Houser & John Wooders, 2006. "Reputation in Auctions: Theory, and Evidence from eBay," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(2), pages 353-369, 06.
  42. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A., 2000. "Asymmetric inequality aversion and noisy behavior in alternating-offer bargaining games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 1079-1089, May.
  43. 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.
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:joepsy:v:30:y:2009:i:3:p:393-404. 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.