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Directed Altruism and Enforced Reciprocity in Social Networks

  • Mobius, Markus
  • Do, Quoc-Anh
  • Leider, Stephen
  • Rosenblat, Tanya

We conduct online field experiments in large real-world social networks in order to decompose prosocial giving into three components: (1) baseline altruism toward randomly selected strangers, (2) directed altruism that favors friends over random strangers, and (3) giving motivated by the prospect of future interaction. Directed altruism increases giving to friends by 52 percent relative to random strangers, while future interaction effects increase giving by an additional 24 percent when giving is socially efficient. This finding suggests that future interaction affects giving through a repeated game mechanism where agents can be rewarded for granting efficiency enhancing favors. We also find that subjects with higher baseline altruism have friends with higher baseline altruism.

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Paper provided by Harvard University Department of Economics in its series Scholarly Articles with number 3054685.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Publication status: Published in Quarterly Journal of Economics
Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:3054685
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  1. Quoc-Anh Do & Stephen Leider & Markus M. Mobius & Tanya Rosenblat, 2009. "What Do We Expect from Our Friends?," Working Papers 09-2009, Singapore Management University, School of Economics.
  2. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
  3. Kovarik, Jaromir & Jiménez, Natalia & Ponti, Giovanni & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Brañas Garza, Pablo & Cobo Reyes, Ramón, 2009. "Altruism and Social Integration," DFAEII Working Papers 2009-35, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
    • Kovarik, Jaromir & Jiménez, Natalia & Ponti, Giovanni & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Brañas Garza, Pablo & Cobo Reyes, Ramón, 2009. "Altruism and Social Integration," IKERLANAK 2009-35, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
  4. Stephen Leider & Markus M. Möbius & Tanya Rosenblat & Quoc-Anh Do, 2009. "Directed Altruism and Enforced Reciprocity in Social Networks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1815-1851.
  5. David Marmaros & Bruce Sacerdote, 2006. "How Do Friendships Form?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 79-119.
  6. Markus Mobius & Adam Szeidl, 2007. "Trust and Social Collateral," NBER Working Papers 13126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
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  12. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
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  15. Andreoni, James & Vesterlund, Lise, 2001. "Which is the Fair Sex? Gender Differences in Altruism," Staff General Research Papers Archive 1951, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  16. Rosenblat, Tanya & Mobius, Markus, 2009. "Directed Altruism and Enforced Reciprocity in Social Networks," Staff General Research Papers Archive 13025, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  17. Chaim Fershtman & Uri Gneezy, 2001. "Discrimination in a Segmented Society: An Experimental Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 351-377.
  18. Brañas Garza, Pablo & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Cobo Reyes, Ramón & Jiménez, Natalia & Ponti, Giovanni, 2006. "Altruism in the (Social) Network," DFAEII Working Papers 2006-04, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
    • Kovarik, Jaromir & Jiménez, Natalia & Ponti, Giovanni & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Brañas Garza, Pablo & Cobo Reyes, Ramón, 2009. "Altruism and Social Integration," IKERLANAK 2009-35, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
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