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Norms and Guilt

Author

Listed:
  • Anastasia Danilov
  • Kiryl Khalmetski
  • Dirk Sliwka

Abstract

It has been argued that guilt aversion (the aversion to violate others’ expectations) and the compliance to descriptive social norms (the aversion to act differently than others in the same situation) are important drivers of human behavior. We show in a formal model that both motives are empirically indistinguishable when only one benchmark (another person’s expectation or a norm) is revealed as each of these benchmarks signals information on the other one. To address this problem, we experimentally study how individuals react when both benchmarks are revealed simultaneously. We find that both types of information affect transfers in the dictator game. At the same time, the effect of the recipient’s expectation is non-monotonic as dictators use the disclosed expectation in a self-serving way to decrease transfers.

Suggested Citation

  • Anastasia Danilov & Kiryl Khalmetski & Dirk Sliwka, 2018. "Norms and Guilt," CESifo Working Paper Series 6999, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6999
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp6999.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri, 2000. "Measuring Beliefs in an Experimental Lost Wallet Game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 163-182, February.
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    3. Charness, Gary & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2003. "Promises & Partnership," Research Papers in Economics 2003:3, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
    4. Friebel, Guido & Schnedler, Wendelin, 2011. "Team governance: Empowerment or hierarchical control," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 78(1-2), pages 1-13, April.
    5. Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus & Tjøtta, Sigve & Torsvik, Gaute, 2010. "Testing guilt aversion," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 95-107, January.
    6. Khalmetski, Kiryl & Ockenfels, Axel & Werner, Peter, 2015. "Surprising gifts: Theory and laboratory evidence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 159(PA), pages 163-208.
    7. V. Pelligra & T. Reggiani & D.J. Zizzo, 2016. "Responding to (Un)Reasonable Requests," Working Paper CRENoS 201614, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
    8. Khalmetski, Kiryl, 2016. "Testing guilt aversion with an exogenous shift in beliefs," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 110-119.
    9. Dirk Sliwka, 2007. "Trust as a Signal of a Social Norm and the Hidden Costs of Incentive Schemes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 999-1012, June.
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    11. Bardsley, Nicholas & Sausgruber, Rupert, 2005. "Conformity and reciprocity in public good provision," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 664-681, October.
    12. Paul R. Milgrom, 1981. "Good News and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 380-391, Autumn.
    13. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    guilt aversion; social norms; conformity; dictator game;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations

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