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Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory

  • Ellingsen, Tore
  • Johannesson, Magnus

Many people are sensitive to social esteem, and their pride is a source of pro--social behavior. We present a game-theoretic model in which sensitivity to esteem varies across players and may depend on context as well players' beliefs about their opponents. For example, the pride associated with a generous image is greater when the player holding the image is in fact generous and believes the observers to be generous as well. The model can account both for the fact that players' behaviour sometimes depends on the opponents' unchosen options and for the prevalence of small symbolic gifts. Perhaps most importantly, the model offers an explanation for motivational crowding out: Control systems and pecuniary incentives may erode morale by signalling to the agent that the principal is not worth impressing.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5768.

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Date of creation: Jul 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5768
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  1. Ernst Fehr & Georg Kirchsteiger & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-459.
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  4. Carl Mellström & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Crowding Out in Blood Donation: Was Titmuss Right?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(4), pages 845-863, 06.
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  9. Daniel Houser & Erte Xiao & Kevin McCabe & Vernon Smith, 2005. "When Punishment Fails: Research on Sanctions, Intentions and Non- Cooperation," Experimental 0502001, EconWPA, revised 18 Feb 2005.
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  12. Charness, Gary B & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0dc3k4m5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  13. Levin, Irwin P. & Schneider, Sandra L. & Gaeth, Gary J., 1998. "All Frames Are Not Created Equal: A Typology and Critical Analysis of Framing Effects," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 149-188, November.
  14. Pillutla, Madan M. & Chen, Xiao-Ping, 1999. "Social Norms and Cooperation in Social Dilemmas: The Effects of Context and Feedback, , ," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 81-103, May.
  15. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rigdon, Mary L. & Smith, Vernon L., 2003. "Positive reciprocity and intentions in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 267-275, October.
  16. David K Levine, 1997. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2047, David K. Levine.
  17. Rege, Mari & Telle, Kjetil, 2004. "The impact of social approval and framing on cooperation in public good situations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1625-1644, July.
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