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Altruism in the (Social) Network

  • Brañas Garza, Pablo
  • Espinosa Alejos, María Paz
  • Cobo Reyes, Ramón
  • Jiménez, Natalia
  • Ponti, Giovanni

This paper explores the role of social integration on altruistic behavior. To this aim, we develop a two-stage experimental protocol based on the classic Dictator Game. In the first stage, we ask a group of 77 undergraduate students in Economics to elicit their social network; in the second stage, each of them has to unilaterally decide over the division of a fixed amount of money to be shared with another anonymous member in the group. Our experimental design allows to control for other variables known to be relevant for altruistic behavior: framing and friendship/acquaintance relations. Consistently with previous research, we find that subjects favor their friends and that framing enhances altruistic behavior. Once we control for these effects, social integration (measured by betweenness, a standard centrality measure in network theory) has a positive effect on giving: the larger social isolation within the group, the more likely it is the emergence of selfish behavior. These results suggest that information on the network structure in which subjects are embedded is crucial to account for their behavior.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10810/6725
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Paper provided by University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II in its series DFAEII Working Papers with number 2006-04.

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Date of creation: Nov 2006
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Handle: RePEc:ehu:dfaeii:200604
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Order Information: Postal: Dpto. de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico II, = Facultad de CC. Económicas y Empresariales, Universidad del País Vasco, Avda. Lehendakari Aguirre 83, 48015 Bilbao, Spain
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  1. Andreoni, James & Vesterlund, Lise, 2001. "Which is the Fair Sex? Gender Differences in Altruism," Staff General Research Papers 1951, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  2. John A. List, 2007. "On the Interpretation of Giving in Dictator Games," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 482-493.
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  6. repec:att:wimass:9612 is not listed on IDEAS
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  8. Rosenblat, Tanya & Mobius, Markus, 2009. "Directed Altruism and Enforced Reciprocity in Social Networks," Staff General Research Papers 13025, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  9. Eckel, Catherine C & Grossman, Philip J, 1998. "Are Women Less Selfish Than Men? Evidence from Dictator Experiments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(448), pages 726-35, May.
  10. Calvó-Armengol, Antoni & Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2008. "Peer Effects and Social Networks in Education," IZA Discussion Papers 3859, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Durlauf, Steven N., 2004. "Neighborhood effects," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: J. V. Henderson & J. F. Thisse (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 50, pages 2173-2242 Elsevier.
  12. Burnham, Terence C., 2003. "Engineering altruism: a theoretical and experimental investigation of anonymity and gift giving," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 133-144, January.
  13. Henrich, Joseph & Boyd, Robert & Bowles, Samuel & Camerer, Colin & Fehr, Ernst & Gintis, Herbert (ed.), 2004. "Foundations of Human Sociality: Economic Experiments and Ethnographic Evidence from Fifteen Small-Scale Societies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199262052, March.
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  16. Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri, 2008. "What's in a name? Anonymity and social distance in dictator and ultimatum games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-35, October.
  17. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  18. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  19. Branas-Garza, Pablo, 2007. "Promoting helping behavior with framing in dictator games," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 477-486, August.
  20. Sutter, Matthias & Kocher, Martin G., 2007. "Trust and trustworthiness across different age groups," Munich Reprints in Economics 18182, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  21. Gary E. Bolton & Rami Zwick & Elena Katok, 1998. "Dictator game giving: Rules of fairness versus acts of kindness," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 269-299.
  22. Cassar, Alessandra, 2007. "Coordination and cooperation in local, random and small world networks: Experimental evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 209-230, February.
  23. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
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  25. Jacob K. Goeree & Margaret A. McConnell & Tiffany Mitchell & Tracey Tromp & Leeat Yariv, 2010. "The 1/d Law of Giving," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 183-203, February.
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