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Measuring the Welfare Effects of Shame and Pride


  • Luigi Butera
  • Robert Metcalfe
  • William Morrison
  • Dmitry Taubinsky


Public recognition is a frequent tool for motivating desirable behavior, yet its welfare effects are rarely measured. We develop a portable money-metric approach for measuring the direct welfare effects of shame and pride, which we deploy in a series of experiments on exercise and charitable behavior. In all experiments, public recognition motivates desirable behavior but creates highly unequal emotional consequences. High-performing individuals enjoy significant utility gains from pride, while low-performing individuals incur significant utility losses from shame. We estimate structural models of social signaling, and we use the models to explore the social efficiency of public recognition policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Luigi Butera & Robert Metcalfe & William Morrison & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2019. "Measuring the Welfare Effects of Shame and Pride," NBER Working Papers 25637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25637
    Note: AG HE PE POL

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    Cited by:

    1. Armenak Antinyan & Zareh Asatryan, 2020. "Nudging for Tax Compliance: A Meta-Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 8500, CESifo.
    2. Ericson, Keith M. Marzilli, 2020. "When consumers do not make an active decision: Dynamic default rules and their equilibrium effects," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 369-385.
    3. Simon Haenni & Guilherme Lichand, 2020. "Harming to signal: child marriage vs. public donations in Malawi," ECON - Working Papers 348, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    4. Ritwik Banerjee & Priyoma Mustafi, 2020. "Using social recognition to address the gender difference in volunteering for low-promotability tasks," Papers 2012.13514,
    5. Antinyan, Armenak & Asatryan, Zareh, 2019. "Nudging for tax compliance: A meta-analysis," ZEW Discussion Papers 19-055, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    6. Banerjee, Ritwik & Mustafi, Priyoma, 2020. "Using Social Recognition to Address the Gender Difference in Volunteering for Low Promotability Tasks," IZA Discussion Papers 13956, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Gauri, Varun & Jamison, Julian C. & Mazar, Nina & Ozier, Owen, 2019. "Motivating Bureaucrats through Social Recognition: External Validity — A Tale of Two States," IZA Discussion Papers 12251, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General

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