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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
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5768
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  1. Ernst Fehr & John A. List, 2004. "The Hidden Costs and Returns of Incentives-Trust and Trustworthiness Among CEOs," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(5), pages 743-771, 09.
  2. Mellström, Carl & Johannesson, Magnus, 2005. "Crowding Out in Blood Donation: Was Titmuss Right?," Working Papers in Economics 180, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised 08 Feb 2008.
  3. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  11. Sliwka, Dirk, 2003. "On the Hidden Costs of Incentive Schemes," IZA Discussion Papers 844, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. 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.
  13. Rotemberg, Julio J., 2008. "Minimally acceptable altruism and the ultimatum game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 66(3-4), pages 457-476, June.
  14. 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.
  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. Kreps, David M, 1997. "Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Incentives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 359-64, May.
  17. Jean Tirole & Roland Bénabou, 2006. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1652-1678, December.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Seabright, Paul, 2004. "Continuous Preferences Can Cause Discontinuous Choices : an Application to the Impact of Incentives on Altruism," IDEI Working Papers 257, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  21. repec:oup:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:3:p:817-869 is not listed on IDEAS
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