Do Liberals Play Nice? The Effects of Party and Political Ideology in Public Goods and Trust Games
Democrats and liberals are generally understood to be more caring and kind than Republicans and conservatives; for example, even conservative author and media personality Ben Wattenberg has acknowledged that "the word ‘conservative’ conjures up images of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, while ‘liberal’ brings to mind kindly Santa Claus." (PBS Think-Tank, 1995). This perception of Democrats and liberals as more other-regarding, while not universal, is pervasive enough that George W. Bush, while campaigning for the Republican nomination for president, adopted the moniker of a "compassionate conservative" to counter such stereotypes. But are left-leaning individuals really more generous and trusting? We put conventional wisdom to the test by examining differences in the behavior of liberal versus conservative subjects in two classic experimental settings: the public goods game and the bilateral trust game.
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