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What Do We Expect from Our Friends?

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

We conduct a field experiment in a large real-world social network to examine how subjects expect to be treated by their friends and by strangers who make allocation decisions in modified dictator games. Although recipients' beliefs accurately account for the extent to which friends will choose more generous allocations than strangers (i.e., directed altruism), recipients are not able to anticipate individual differences in the baseline altruism of allocators (measured by giving to an unnamed recipient, which is predictive of generosity toward named recipients). Recipients who are direct friends with the allocator, or even recipients with many common friends, are no more accurate in recognizing intrinsically altruistic allocators. Recipient beliefs are significantly less accurate than the predictions of an econometrician who knows the allocator's demographic characteristics and social distance, suggesting recipients do not have information on unobservable characteristics of the allocator. (JEL: C73, C91, D64) (c) 2010 by the European Economic Association.

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Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 32103.

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Date of creation: 16 Nov 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of the European Economic Association, March 2010, vol. 8 no. 1, pp. 120-138
Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:32103
Contact details of provider: Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
Phone: +1 515.294.6741
Fax: +1 515.294.0221
Web page: http://www.econ.iastate.edu
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  1. Bénabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2003. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," IDEI Working Papers 389, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised Jan 2006.
  2. Stephen Leider & Markus M. Möbius & Tanya Rosenblat & Quoc-Anh Do, 2009. "Directed Altruism and Enforced Reciprocity in Social Networks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1815-1851, November.
  3. Charness, Gary B & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0dc3k4m5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  4. Brañas-Garza, Pablo & Cobo-Reyes, Ramón & Espinosa, María Paz & Jiménez, Natalia & Kovárík, Jaromír & Ponti, Giovanni, 2010. "Altruism and social integration," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 249-257, July.
    • 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," DFAEII Working Papers 2009-05, 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.
  5. Fernando Aguiar & Pablo Brañas-Garza & Natalia Jiménez & Luis Miller, 2007. "Are women expected to be more generous?," ThE Papers 07/08, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
  6. Dean Karlan & Markus Mobius & Tanya Rosenblat & Adam Szeidl, 2009. "Trust and Social Collateral," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1307-1361, August.
  7. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521123204 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Huck, Steffen & Weizsacker, Georg, 2002. "Do players correctly estimate what others do? : Evidence of conservatism in beliefs," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 71-85, January.
  9. Markus M. Mobius & Tanya S. Rosenblat, 2006. "Why Beauty Matters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 222-235, March.
  10. Miguel A. Costa-Gomes & Georg Weizsäcker, 2004. "Stated Beliefs and Play in Normal Form Games," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000236, UCLA Department of Economics.
  11. Fershtman, C. & Gneezy, U., 2000. "Discrimination in a Segmented Society: an Experimental Approach," Papers 2000-9, Tel Aviv.
  12. Neel Rao & Markus M. Möbius & Tanya Rosenblat, 2007. "Social networks and vaccination decisions," Working Papers 07-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  13. Antoni Calvó-Armengol & Matthew O. Jackson, 2004. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 426-454, June.
  14. Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2003. "Behavioral Game Theory. Experiments in Strategic Interaction: Colin F. Camerer, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 2003, p. 550, Price $65.00/[UK pound]42.95, ISBN 0-691-09039-4," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 717-720, December.
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