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Empathy, Guilt-Aversion and Patterns of Reciprocity

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  • V. Pelligra

    ()

Abstract

This paper reports the results of an experiment aimed at investigating the link between empathy, anticipated guilt and pro-social behavior. In particular we test the hypothesis that empathy modulates the anticipatory effect of guilt in bargaining situations and, more specifically, that it correlates with subjects' willingness to give and to repay trust in an investment game. We also control for the effect of individual risk attitude. Our main results show that empathy significantly influences players' pattern of restitution in the investment game and that risk-propensity weakly affects the decision to trust; we also find a significant gender difference in the distribution of empathy. These results seem to indicate that empathy affects pro-social behavior in a more complex way than previously hypothesized by existing models of social preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • V. Pelligra, 2011. "Empathy, Guilt-Aversion and Patterns of Reciprocity," Working Paper CRENoS 201108, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
  • Handle: RePEc:cns:cnscwp:201108
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    File URL: http://crenos.unica.it/crenos/node/3261
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    File URL: http://crenos.unica.it/crenos/sites/default/files/WP11-08.pdf
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Di Bartolomeo Giovanni & Papa Stefano, 2011. "Trust, reciprocity and altruism: An impossible addition," wp.comunite 0082, Department of Communication, University of Teramo.
    2. repec:eee:jeborg:v:140:y:2017:i:c:p:246-266 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Luca Stanca, 2011. "Social science and neuroscience: how can they inform each other?," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 58(3), pages 243-256, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    trust; reciprocity; guilt-aversion; empathy;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory

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