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Anticipated verbal feedback induces altruistic behavior

Author

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  • Ellingsen, Tore

    () (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics)

  • Johannesson, Magnus

    () (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics)

Abstract

A distinctive feature of humans compared to other species is the high rate of cooperation with non-kin. One explanation is that humans are motivated by concerns for social esteem. In this paper we experimentally investigate the impact of anticipated verbal feedback on altruistic behavior. We study pairwise interactions in which one subject, the “divider”, decides how to split a sum of money between herself and a recipient. Thereafter, the recipient can send an unrestricted anonymous message to the divider. The subjects’ relationship is anonymous and one-shot to rule out any reputation effects. Compared to a control treatment without feedback messages, donations increase substantially when recipients can communicate. With verbal feedback, the fraction of zero donations decreases from about 40% to about 20%, and there is a corresponding increase in the fraction of equal splits from about 30% to about 50%. Recipients who receive no money almost always express disapproval of the divider, sometimes strongly and in foul language. Following an equal split, almost all recipients praise the divider. The results suggest that anticipated verbal rewards and punishments play a role in promoting altruistic behavior among humans.

Suggested Citation

  • Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus, 2007. "Anticipated verbal feedback induces altruistic behavior," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 668, Stockholm School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0668
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    File URL: http://swopec.hhs.se/hastef/papers/hastef0668.pdf
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    1. Peguin-Feissolle, A. & Terasvirta, T., 1999. "A General Framework for Testing the Granger Noncausality Hypothesis," G.R.E.Q.A.M. 99a42, Universite Aix-Marseille III.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nikos Nikiforakis & Helen Mitchell, 2014. "Mixing the carrots with the sticks: third party punishment and reward," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 17(1), pages 1-23, March.
    2. Anna Dreber & Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson & David Rand, 2013. "Do people care about social context? Framing effects in dictator games," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, pages 349-371.
    3. Apesteguia, Jose & Funk, Patricia & Iriberri, Nagore, 2013. "Promoting rule compliance in daily-life: Evidence from a randomized field experiment in the public libraries of Barcelona," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 266-284.
    4. Elisabeth Gsottbauer & Jeroen Bergh, 2011. "Environmental Policy Theory Given Bounded Rationality and Other-regarding Preferences," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 49(2), pages 263-304, June.
    5. López-Pérez, Raúl & Vorsatz, Marc, 2010. "On approval and disapproval: Theory and experiments," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 527-541, August.
    6. repec:gam:jgames:v:8:y:2017:i:3:p:29-:d:104745 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. James Konow & Tatsuyoshi Saijo & Kenju Akai, 2008. "Morals and Mores? Experimental Evidence on Equity and Equality from the US and Japan," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002055, David K. Levine.
    8. Fischbacher, Urs & Utikal, Verena, 2013. "On the acceptance of apologies," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 592-608.
    9. Daniel Houser & Erte Xiao, 2011. "Classification of natural language messages using a coordination game," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(1), pages 1-14, March.
    10. Mario Capizzani & Luigi Mittone & Andrew Musau & Antonino Vaccaro, 2017. "Anticipated Communication in the Ultimatum Game," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(3), pages 1-20, July.
    11. Adam Zylbersztejn, 2013. "Strategic signaling or emotional sanctioning? An experimental study of ex post communication in a repeated public goods game," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 13011, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    12. Andersson, Ola & Galizzi, Matteo M. & Hoppe, Tim & Kranz, Sebastian & der Wiel, Karen van & Wengström, Erik, 2010. "Persuasion in experimental ultimatum games," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 16-18, July.
    13. Festré, Agnès & Garrouste, Pierre, 2014. "Somebody may scold you! A dictator experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 141-153.
    14. Vyrastekova, Jana & Funaki, Yukihiko & Takeuchi, Ai, 2011. "Sanctioning as a social norm: Expectations of non-strategic sanctioning in a public goods game experiment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 919-928.
    15. Raúl López-Pérez & Marc Vorsatz, 2012. "What Behaviors are Disapproved? Experimental Evidence from Five Dictator Games," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(2), pages 1-19, April.
    16. Chen, Josie I & Kamei, Kenju, 2014. "Expressing Emotion and Fairness Crowding-out in an Ultimatum Game with Incomplete Information," MPRA Paper 54405, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Ronald Peeters & Marc Vorsatz, 2013. "Immaterial Rewards And Sanctions In A Voluntary Contribution Experiment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(2), pages 1442-1456, April.
    18. Erik O. Kimbrough & Vernon L. Smith & Bart J. Wilson, 2008. "Historical Property Rights, Sociality, and the Emergence of Impersonal Exchange in Long-Distance Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1009-1039.
    19. López-Pérez, Raúl & Vorsatz, Marc, 2010. "An Exploration of the Content of Social Norms using Simple Games," Working Papers in Economic Theory 2010/01, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), Department of Economic Analysis (Economic Theory and Economic History).
    20. Emmanuel PETIT (GREThA, CNRS, UMR 5113) & Anna TCHERKASSOF (Laboratoire Interuniversitaire de Psychologie. Personnalité, Cognition et Changement Social (LIP/PC2S), Université Pierre Mendès France) & X, 2012. "Sincere Giving and Shame in a Dictator Game," Cahiers du GREThA 2012-25, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée.
    21. Luigi Mittone & Andrew Musau, 2016. "Communication, sequentiality and strategic power. A prisoners� dilemma experiment," CEEL Working Papers 1603, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Punishment; Approval; Disapproval; Dictator game; Altruism; Communication; Verbal feedback;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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