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Honestly, why are you donating money to charity? An experimental study about self-awareness in status- seeking behavior

  • Mitesh Kataria

    ()

    (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena, Germany)

  • Tobias Regner

    ()

    (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena, Germany)

This study investigates experimentally whether people in retrospective are self-aware that they engage in status-seeking behavior. Subjects participated in a real-effort task where effort translated into a donation to a charity. Within-subjects we varied the visibility of their performance (private/public feedback). On average subjects exerted more effort in the public treatment. After the real effort task subjects were asked to state their retrospective beliefs about their performance in public given feedback about their performance in private, and about the performance of other subjects in public given the average performance in private. Between-subjects we varied the compensation (low/high) for accurate estimates. Our results show a lack of self-awareness about status-seeking behavior that is robust to increased belief compensation. We also found that subjects expected others to be as status-seeking as they are themselves or even less.

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Paper provided by Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics in its series Jena Economic Research Papers with number 2012-032.

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Date of creation: 02 Jul 2012
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Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2012-032
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  1. Yoram Weiss & Chaim Fershtman, 1997. "Social Status and Economic Performance: A Survey," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 139, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
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  7. Glazer, Amihai & Konrad, Kai A, 1996. "A Signaling Explanation for Charity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 1019-28, September.
  8. James Andreoni & B. Douglas Bernheim, 2009. "Social Image and the 50-50 Norm: A Theoretical and Experimental Analysis of Audience Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1607-1636, 09.
  9. Frank, Robert H, 1985. "The Demand for Unobservable and Other Nonpositional Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 101-16, March.
  10. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Martinsson, Peter, 2006. "Honestly, why are you driving a BMW?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 129-146, June.
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  13. James Konow, 2000. "Fair Shares: Accountability and Cognitive Dissonance in Allocation Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1072-1091, September.
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