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Smiley or Frowney: The effect of emotions and framing in a downstream water pollution game

  • Czap, Hans J.
  • Czap, Natalia V.
  • Khachaturyan, Marianna
  • Burbach, Mark E.
  • Lynne, Gary D.
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    Common-pool resources and other shared resources frequently suffer from overextraction/overuse and associated negative externalities. In this paper we design a framed laboratory experiment on downstream water pollution to investigate (a) the importance of framing in determining the behavior of upstreamers regarding the negative externalities, and (b) the potential of downstreamers to influence the choices of upstreamers using non-monetary sanctions and rewards, alleviating the need for intervention by the local governments and regulatory institutions. Our results show that framing has a significant impact on the behavior of subjects. Subjects behaved more profit-oriented in the self-interest framing and more egalitarian in the empathy framing. In addition, we show that nudging subjects to “walk in the shoes of others” significantly increased empathetic behavior. Lastly, negative emotional feedback is a powerful tool for changing behavior of subjects towards more environmentally friendly and empathetic behavior. Interestingly, positive emotional feedback is counterproductive in that it instead decreases environmentally friendly and empathetic behavior. In general our results indicate that explicit emotional feedback, even though not expressed by everyone, works similarly to the implicit appeal to emotions through framing.

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    Paper provided by Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its series 2011 Annual Meeting, July 24-26, 2011, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with number 102696.

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    Date of creation: 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea11:102696
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    1. López-Pérez, Raúl & Vorsatz, Marc, 2010. "On approval and disapproval: Theory and experiments," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 527-541, August.
    2. John A. List & Michael K. Price, 2013. "Using Field Experiments in Environmental and Resource Economics," NBER Working Papers 19289, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Ben-Shakhar, Gershon & Bornstein, Gary & Hopfensitz, Astrid & van Winden, Frans, 2007. "Reciprocity and emotions in bargaining using physiological and self-report measures," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 314-323, June.
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