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Public good provision, in-group cooperation and out-group descriptive norms: A lab experiment

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  • Serhiy Kandul
  • Bruno Lanz

Abstract

We use a public good experiment to study how in-group cooperation is affected by payoff-irrelevant information about cooperation in other groups (i.e., descriptive out-group feedback). We find that positive out-group feedback, indicating above-average cooperation, deters low in-group contributors from increasing their contribution toward the in-group average. By contrast, negative out-group feedback, which informs participants about below-average cooperation, deters high in-group contributors from decreasing their contribution toward the in-group average. These two effects work together to dampen contribution patterns associated with conditional cooperation. Further, we show that the effects are stronger for individual-level feedback (comparing individual contributions with the out-group average) than for group-level feedback (comparing total contributions by in-group members with that of other groups). Interestingly, when allowed to avoid out-group feedback information, the propensity to consult the feedback is similar for high and low in-group contributors, suggesting that information acquisition is not always self-serving.

Suggested Citation

  • Serhiy Kandul & Bruno Lanz, 2018. "Public good provision, in-group cooperation and out-group descriptive norms: A lab experiment," IRENE Working Papers 18-06, IRENE Institute of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:irn:wpaper:18-06
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Conditional cooperation; Social norms; Public good game; Prosocial behavior; Deliberate ignorance;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices

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