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Reconciling Pro-Social vs. Selfish Behavior - Evidence for the Role of Self-Control

Author

Listed:
  • Martinsson, Peter

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

  • Myrseth, Kristian Ove R.

    () (ESMT European School of Management and Technology)

  • Wollbrant, Conny

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Martinsson, Peter & Myrseth, Kristian Ove R. & Wollbrant, Conny, 2010. "Reconciling Pro-Social vs. Selfish Behavior - Evidence for the Role of Self-Control," Working Papers in Economics 445, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0445
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dan Ariely & Anat Bracha & Stephan Meier, 2009. "Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 544-555, March.
    2. 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.
    3. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
    4. Nicholas Burger & Gary Charness & John Lynham, 2008. "Three Field Experiments on Procrastination and Willpower," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002399, David K. Levine.
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    Cited by:

    1. Martinsson, Peter & Myrseth, Kristian Ove R. & Wollbrant, Conny, 2010. "Conditional Cooperation: Evidence for the Role of Self-Control," Working Papers in Economics 459, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    self-control; pro-social behavior; altruism; experiment.;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General

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