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Warm-glow versus cold-prickle: the effect of positive and negative framing on cooperation in experiments

  • James Andreoni

This paper considers the standard linear public goods game under two experimental conditions. The positive-frame condition is the regular public goods game that experimental economists have studied in the past. This frames the subject's choice as contributing to a public good, which will have a positive benefit to other subjects. The second condition is the negative-frame condition. The incentives of this game are identical to the positive-frame condition. However, this time a subject's choice is framed as purchasing a private good which, since the opportunity cost is the purchase of the public good, makes the other subjects worse off. The result is that subjects in the positive-frame condition are much more cooperative than subjects in the negative-frame condition. This indicates that much of the cooperation observed in public goods experiments is due to framing, and that the warm-glow of creating a positive externality appears to be stronger than the cold-prickle of creating a negative externality.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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Paper provided by David K. Levine in its series Levine's Working Paper Archive with number 671.

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Date of creation: 01 Aug 1997
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:671
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.dklevine.com/

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  1. Walker, James M. & Gardner, Roy & Ostrom, Elinor, 1990. "Rent dissipation in a limited-access common-pool resource: Experimental evidence," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 203-211, November.
  2. Walker, James M & Gardner, Roy, 1992. "Probabilistic Destruction of Common-Pool Resources: Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(414), pages 1149-61, September.
  3. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Why free ride? : Strategies and learning in public goods experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 291-304, December.
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