IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/pubeco/v195y2021ics0047272721000037.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Prosociality predicts health behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic

Author

Listed:
  • Campos-Mercade, Pol
  • Meier, Armando N.
  • Schneider, Florian H.
  • Wengström, Erik

Abstract

Socially responsible behavior is crucial for slowing the spread of infectious diseases. However, economic and epidemiological models of disease transmission abstract from prosocial motivations as a driver of behaviors that impact the health of others. In an incentivized study, we show that a large majority of people are very reluctant to put others at risk for their personal benefit. Moreover, this experimental measure of prosociality predicts health behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic, measured in a separate and ostensibly unrelated study with the same people. Prosocial individuals are more likely to follow physical distancing guidelines, stay home when sick, and buy face masks. We also find that prosociality measured two years before the pandemic predicts health behaviors during the pandemic. Our findings indicate that prosociality is a stable, long-term predictor of policy-relevant behaviors, suggesting that the impact of policies on a population may depend on the degree of prosociality.

Suggested Citation

  • Campos-Mercade, Pol & Meier, Armando N. & Schneider, Florian H. & Wengström, Erik, 2021. "Prosociality predicts health behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 195(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:195:y:2021:i:c:s0047272721000037
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2021.104367
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047272721000037
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1016/j.jpubeco.2021.104367?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

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

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
    2. Freundt, Jana & Lange, Andreas, 2017. "On the determinants of giving under risk," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 24-31.
    3. Fehr Ernst & Epper Thomas & Senn Julien, 2020. "Other-regarding preferences and redistributive politics," ECON - Working Papers 339, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Dec 2021.
    4. Jonathan de Quidt & Johannes Haushofer & Christopher Roth, 2018. "Measuring and Bounding Experimenter Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(11), pages 3266-3302, November.
    5. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2011. "Individual Risk Attitudes: Measurement, Determinants, And Behavioral Consequences," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 522-550, June.
    6. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
    7. Michael Grossman, 1972. "The Demand for Health: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gros72-1.
    8. Martin F. Quaas & Jasper N. Meya & Hanna Schenk & Björn Bos & Moritz A. Drupp & Till Requate, 2020. "The Social Cost of Contacts: Theory and Evidence for the Covid-19 Pandemic in Germany," CESifo Working Paper Series 8347, CESifo.
    9. Haisley, Emily C. & Weber, Roberto A., 2010. "Self-serving interpretations of ambiguity in other-regarding behavior," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 614-625, March.
    10. Uri Gneezy & Jan Potters, 1997. "An Experiment on Risk Taking and Evaluation Periods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 631-645.
    11. Armin Falk & Anke Becker & Thomas Dohmen & Benjamin Enke & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2018. "Global Evidence on Economic Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(4), pages 1645-1692.
    12. Christopher T. Dawes & James H. Fowler & Tim Johnson & Richard McElreath & Oleg Smirnov, 2007. "Egalitarian motives in humans," Nature, Nature, vol. 446(7137), pages 794-796, April.
    13. Ingvild Almås & Alexander W. Cappelen & Bertil Tungodden, 2020. "Cutthroat Capitalism versus Cuddly Socialism: Are Americans More Meritocratic and Efficiency-Seeking than Scandinavians?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 128(5), pages 1753-1788.
    14. Matthias Sutter & Martin G. Kocher & Daniela Glätzle-Rützler & Stefan T. Trautmann, 2013. "Impatience and Uncertainty: Experimental Decisions Predict Adolescents' Field Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 510-531, February.
    15. Alois Stutzer & Armando N. Meier, 2016. "Limited Self‐control, Obesity, and the Loss of Happiness," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(11), pages 1409-1424, November.
    16. Anderson, Lisa R. & Mellor, Jennifer M., 2008. "Predicting health behaviors with an experimental measure of risk preference," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1260-1274, September.
    17. Alexander W. Cappelen & Astri Drange Hole & Erik Ø Sørensen & Bertil Tungodden, 2007. "The Pluralism of Fairness Ideals: An Experimental Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 818-827, June.
    18. Farboodi, Maryam & Jarosch, Gregor & Shimer, Robert, 2021. "Internal and external effects of social distancing in a pandemic," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 196(C).
    19. Dirk Kruger & Harald Uhlig & Taojun Xie, 2020. "Macroeconomic Dynamics and Reallocation in an Epidemic," Working Papers 2020-43, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
    20. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2002. "Altruistic punishment in humans," Nature, Nature, vol. 415(6868), pages 137-140, January.
    21. Christopher Chabris & David Laibson & Carrie Morris & Jonathon Schuldt & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2008. "Individual laboratory-measured discount rates predict field behavior," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 237-269, December.
    22. Krueger, Dirk & Uhlig, Harald & Xie, Taojun, 2020. "Macroeconomic Dynamics and Reallocation in an Epidemic: Evaluating the "Swedish Solution''," CEPR Discussion Papers 14607, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    23. Frank Schilbach, 2019. "Alcohol and Self-Control: A Field Experiment in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(4), pages 1290-1322, April.
    24. Björn Bartling & Roberto A. Weber & Lan Yao, 2015. "Do Markets Erode Social Responsibility?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(1), pages 219-266.
    25. Zachary A. Bethune & Anton Korinek, 2020. "Covid-19 Infection Externalities: Trading Off Lives vs. Livelihoods," NBER Working Papers 27009, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    26. Liang Bai & Benjamin Handel & Edward Miguel & Gautam Rao, 2021. "Self-Control and Demand for Preventive Health: Evidence from Hypertension in India," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 103(5), pages 835-856, December.
    27. Rustichini, Aldo & DeYoung, Colin G. & Anderson, Jon E. & Burks, Stephen V., 2012. "Toward the Integration of Personality Theory and Decision Theory in the Explanation of Economic and Health Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 6750, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    28. Michal Krawczyk & Fabrice Le Lec, 2010. "‘Give me a chance!’ An experiment in social decision under risk," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 13(4), pages 500-511, December.
    29. Emily Oster, 2019. "Unobservable Selection and Coefficient Stability: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(2), pages 187-204, April.
    30. Guglielmo Briscese & Nicola Lacetera & Mario Macis & Mirco Tonin, 2020. "Expectations, reference points, and compliance with COVID-19 social distancing measures," NBER Working Papers 26916, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    31. Eric Friedman & John Friedman & Simon Johnson & Adam Landsberg, 2020. "Transitioning out of the Coronavirus Lockdown: A Framework for Zone-Based Social Distancing," Papers 2004.08504, arXiv.org.
    32. Christine L. Exley, 2016. "Excusing Selfishness in Charitable Giving: The Role of Risk," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(2), pages 587-628.
    33. Hershey, John C. & Asch, David A. & Thumasathit, Thi & Meszaros, Jacqueline & Waters, Victor V., 1994. "The Roles of Altruism, Free Riding, and Bandwagoning in Vaccination Decisions," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 177-187, August.
    34. Fisman, Raymond & Jakiela, Pamela & Kariv, Shachar, 2017. "Distributional preferences and political behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 155(C), pages 1-10.
    35. Armin Falk & Anke Becker & Thomas Dohmen & Benjamin Enke & David B. Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2017. "Global Evidence on Economic Preferences," NBER Working Papers 23943, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    36. Harrison, Glenn W. & Lau, Morten I. & Rutström, E. Elisabet, 2010. "Individual discount rates and smoking: Evidence from a field experiment in Denmark," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 708-717, September.
    37. Galizzi, Matteo M. & Machado, Sara R. & Miniaci, Raffaele, 2016. "Temporal stability, cross-validity, and external validity of risk preferences measures: experimental evidence from a UK representative sample," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 67554, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    38. Johannes Haushofer & Anett John & Kate Orkin, 2019. "Can Simple Psychological Interventions Increase Preventive Health Investment?," NBER Working Papers 25731, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    39. Cawley, John & Ruhm, Christopher J., 2011. "The Economics of Risky Health Behaviors," Handbook of Health Economics, in: Mark V. Pauly & Thomas G. Mcguire & Pedro P. Barros (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 95-199, Elsevier.
    40. Hardardottir, Hjördis & Gerdtham, Ulf-G. & Wengström, Erik, 2019. "What Kind of Inequality Do You Prefer? Evaluating Measures of Income and Health Inequality Using Choice Experiments," Working Papers 2019:7, Lund University, Department of Economics, revised 31 May 2019.
    41. Harrell Chesson & Jami Leichliter & Gregory Zimet & Susan Rosenthal & David Bernstein & Kenneth Fife, 2006. "Discount rates and risky sexual behaviors among teenagers and young adults," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 217-230, May.
    42. M. Keith Chen, 2013. "The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(2), pages 690-731, April.
    43. Ferdinand M. Vieider & Mathieu Lefebvre & Ranoua Bouchouicha & Thorsten Chmura & Rustamdjan Hakimov & Michal Krawczyk & Peter Martinsson, 2015. "Common Components Of Risk And Uncertainty Attitudes Across Contexts And Domains: Evidence From 30 Countries," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 421-452, June.
    44. 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.
    45. Alfaro, Laura & Faia, Ester & Lamersdorf, Nora & Saidi, Farzad, 2020. "Social Interactions in Pandemics: Fear, Altruism, and Reciprocity," CEPR Discussion Papers 14716, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    46. Falco, Paolo & Zaccagni, Sarah, 2020. "Promoting social distancing in a pandemic: Beyond the good intentions," OSF Preprints a2nys, Center for Open Science.
    47. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2004. "Addiction and Cue-Triggered Decision Processes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1558-1590, December.
    48. J. Michelle Brock & Andreas Lange & Erkut Y. Ozbay, 2013. "Dictating the Risk: Experimental Evidence on Giving in Risky Environments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 415-437, February.
    49. Guglielmo Briscese & Nicola Lacetera & Mario Macis & Mirco Tonin, 2020. "Compliance with Covid-19 Social-Distancing Measures in Italy: The Role of Expectations and Duration," CESifo Working Paper Series 8182, CESifo.
    50. Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2006. "Paying Not to Go to the Gym," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 694-719, June.
    51. Rand, David Gertler & Dreber, Anna & Fudenberg, Drew & Ellingson, Tore & Nowak, Martin A., 2009. "Positive Interactions Promote Public Cooperation," Scholarly Articles 3804483, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    52. Daniel Zizzo, 2010. "Experimenter demand effects in economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 13(1), pages 75-98, March.
    53. Oliver P. Hauser & David G. Rand & Alexander Peysakhovich & Martin A. Nowak, 2014. "Cooperating with the future," Nature, Nature, vol. 511(7508), pages 220-223, July.
    54. Müller, Stephan & Rau, Holger A., 2020. "Economic preferences and compliance in the social stress test of the Corona crisis," University of Göttingen Working Papers in Economics 391, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    55. Ola Andersson & Håkan J. Holm & Jean‐Robert Tyran & Erik Wengström, 2020. "Risking Other People's Money: Experimental Evidence on the Role of Incentives and Personality Traits," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 122(2), pages 648-674, April.
    56. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
    57. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Fehr Ernst & Epper Thomas & Senn Julien, 2020. "Other-regarding preferences and redistributive politics," ECON - Working Papers 339, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Dec 2021.
    2. Garcia, Thomas & Massoni, Sébastien & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2020. "Ambiguity and excuse-driven behavior in charitable giving," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 124(C).
    3. Alfaro, Laura & Faia, Ester & Lamersdorf, Nora & Saidi, Farzad, 2020. "Social Interactions in Pandemics: Fear, Altruism, and Reciprocity," CEPR Discussion Papers 14716, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Hyndman, Kyle & Walker, Matthew J., 2022. "Fairness and risk in ultimatum bargaining," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 90-105.
    5. Tim Kraft & León Valdés & Yanchong Zheng, 2018. "Supply Chain Visibility and Social Responsibility: Investigating Consumers’ Behaviors and Motives," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 20(4), pages 617-636, October.
    6. Breitmoser, Yves & Vorjohann, Pauline, 2018. "Welfare-Based Altruism," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 89, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    7. Armin Falk & Anke Becker & Thomas Dohmen & Benjamin Enke & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2018. "Global Evidence on Economic Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(4), pages 1645-1692.
    8. Kerschbamer, Rudolf & Müller, Daniel, 2020. "Social preferences and political attitudes: An online experiment on a large heterogeneous sample," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 182(C).
    9. Laura Alfaro & Ester Faia & Nora Lamersdorf & Farzad Saidi, 2021. "Social Interactions in a Pandemic," ECONtribute Discussion Papers Series 110, University of Bonn and University of Cologne, Germany.
    10. Engel, Christoph & Goerg, Sebastian J., 2018. "If the worst comes to the worst: Dictator giving when recipient’s endowments are risky," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 51-70.
    11. Dániel Horn & Hubert János Kiss, 2020. "Time preferences and their life outcome correlates: Evidence from a representative survey," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(7), pages 1-26, July.
    12. Gary Charness & Thomas Garcia & Theo Offerman & Marie Claire Villeval, 2020. "Do measures of risk attitude in the laboratory predict behavior under risk in and outside of the laboratory?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 60(2), pages 99-123, April.
    13. Alexia Gaudeul, 2013. "Social preferences under uncertainty," Jena Economic Research Papers 2013-024, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    14. Elena Cettolin & Arno Riedl & Giang Tran, 2017. "Giving in the face of risk," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 55(2), pages 95-118, December.
    15. Sebastian Olschewski & Marius Dietsch & Elliot A. Ludvig, 2019. "Anti-social motives explain increased risk aversion for others in decisions from experience," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 14(1), pages 58-71, January.
    16. Vincze, János & Koltay, Gábor, 2009. "Fogyasztói döntések a viselkedési közgazdaságtan szemszögéből [Consumer decisions from the angle of behavioural economics]," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(6), pages 495-525.
    17. Kerschbamer, Rudolf, 2015. "The geometry of distributional preferences and a non-parametric identification approach: The Equality Equivalence Test," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 85-103.
    18. Eriksen, Kristoffer W. & Fest, Sebastian & Kvaløy, Ola & Dijk, Oege, 2022. "Fair advice," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 143(C).
    19. Dorian Jullien, 2016. "Under Uncertainty, Over Time and Regarding Other People: Rationality in 3D," GREDEG Working Papers 2016-20, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), Université Côte d'Azur, France.
    20. Müller, Julia & Schwieren, Christiane & Spitzer, Florian, 2016. "What Drives Destruction? On the Malleability of Anti-Social Behavior," Department of Economics Working Paper Series 238, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social preferences; Health behavior; Externalities; Prosociality; COVID-19;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • H12 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Crisis Management

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:pubeco:v:195:y:2021:i:c:s0047272721000037. 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: . General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578 .

    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 CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578 .

    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.