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Reconciling pro-social versus selfish behavior: Evidence for the role of self-control

  • Peter Martinsson

    (University of Gothenburg)

  • Kristian Ove R. Myrseth

    (ESMT European School of Management and Technology)

  • Conny Wollbrant

    (University of Gothenburg)

We test the proposition that individuals may experience a self-control conflict between short-term temptation to be selfish and better judgment to act pro-socially. Using a dictator game and a public goods game, we manipulated the likelihood that individuals identified self-control conflict, and we measured their trait ability to implement self-control strategies. Consistent with our hypothesis, we find that trait self-control exhibits a positive and significant correlation with pro-social behavior in the treatment that raises likelihood of conflict identification, but not in the treatment that reduces likelihood of conflict identification.

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File URL: http://static.esmt.org/publications/workingpapers/ESMT-10-003_R1.pdf
File Function: Revised version, 2010
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Paper provided by ESMT European School of Management and Technology in its series ESMT Research Working Papers with number ESMT-10-003 (R1).

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Length: 59 pages
Date of creation: 19 May 2010
Date of revision: 09 Jul 2010
Publication status: Published in Judgment and Decision Making 7(3): 304-315.
Handle: RePEc:esm:wpaper:esmt-10-003
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  1. Thaler, Richard H & Shefrin, H M, 1981. "An Economic Theory of Self-Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 392-406, April.
  2. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  3. David K. Levine & Drew Fudenberg, 2006. "A Dual-Self Model of Impulse Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1449-1476, December.
  4. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Ariely, Dan & Bracha, Anat & Meier, Stephan, 2007. "Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially," IZA Discussion Papers 2968, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., . "The Economics of Fairness, Reciprocity and Altruism - Experimental Evidence and New Theories," Chapters in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  7. Loewenstein, George, 1996. "Out of Control: Visceral Influences on Behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 272-292, March.
  8. Nicholas Burger & Gary Charness & John Lynham, 2008. "Three Field Experiments on Procrastination and Willpower," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002399, David K. Levine.
  9. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
  10. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "Altruism in Anonymous Dictator Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 181-191, October.
  11. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1986. "Fairness and the Assumptions of Economics," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S285-300, October.
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