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Prosocial and moral behavior under decision reveal in a public environment

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  • Andersson, Per A.
  • Erlandsson, Arvid
  • Västfjäll, Daniel
  • Tinghög, Gustav

Abstract

People may act differently in public environments due to actual reputation concerns, or due to the mere presence of others. Unlike previous studies on the influence of observability on prosocial behavior we control for the latter while manipulating the former, i.e. we control for implicit reputation concerns while manipulating explicit. We show that revealing decisions in public did not affect altruistic behavior, while it increased cooperation and made subjects less likely to make utilitarian judgments in sacrificial dilemmas (i.e., harming one to save many). Our findings are in line with theoretical models suggesting that people, at large, are averse to standing out in both positive and negative ways when it comes to altruistic giving. This “wallflower effect” does however not seem to extend to decisions on cooperation and moral judgments made in public.

Suggested Citation

  • Andersson, Per A. & Erlandsson, Arvid & Västfjäll, Daniel & Tinghög, Gustav, 2020. "Prosocial and moral behavior under decision reveal in a public environment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 87(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:87:y:2020:i:c:s2214804318304701
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2020.101561
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Elisa Hofmann, 2020. "The power of close relationships and audiences: Interpersonal closeness and payment observability as determinants of voluntary payments," Jena Economic Research Papers 2020-016, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Altruistic behavior; Cooperation; Moral Judgments; Observability; Audience effect; Image concerns;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior

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