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Actions and the self: I give, therefore I am?

Author

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  • Tobias Regner

    () (FSU Jena)

  • Astrid Matthey

    (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena)

Abstract

Self-signaling models predict less selfish behavior in a probabilistic giving setting as individuals are expected to invest in a pro-social identity. However, there is also substantial evidence that people tend to exploit situational excuses for selfish choices (for instance, uncertainty) and behave more selfishly. We contrast these two motivations experimentally in order to test which one is more prevalent in a reciprocal giving setting. Trustees' back transfer choices are elicited for five different transfer levels of the trustor. Moreover, we ask trustees to provide their back transfer schedule for different scenarios that vary the implementation probability of the back transfer. This design allows us to identify subjects who reciprocate and analyze how these reciprocators respond when self-image relevant factors are varied. Our results indicate that self-deception is prevalent when subjects make the back transfer choice. Twice as many subjects seem to exploit situational excuses than subjects who appear to invest in a pro-social identity.

Suggested Citation

  • Tobias Regner & Astrid Matthey, 2017. "Actions and the self: I give, therefore I am?," Jena Economic Research Papers 2017-018, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2017-018
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    File URL: http://pubdb.wiwi.uni-jena.de/pdf/wp_2017_018.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:kap:expeco:v:21:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s10683-017-9551-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Tobias Regner, 2018. "What's behind image? towards a better understanding of image-driven behavior," Jena Economic Research Papers 2018-020, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social preferences; pro-social behavior; experiments; reciprocity; moral wiggle room; self-image concerns; self-signaling;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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