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Lab Measures of Other-Regarding Preferences Can Predict Some Related on-the-Job Behavior: Evidence from a Large Scale Field Experiment

Listed author(s):
  • Stephen V. Burks

    (Division of Social Science, University of Minnesota, Institute for the Study of Labor, Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics (CeDEx), University of Nottingham)

  • Daniele Nosenzo

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Nottingham.)

  • Jon Anderson

    (Division of Science and Mathematics, University of Minnesota)

  • Matthew Bombyk

    (Innovations for Poverty Action)

  • Derek Ganzhorn

    (Northwestern University School of Law)

  • Lorenz Goette

    (Institute for the Study of Labor, Department of Economics, University of Minnesota)

  • Aldo Rustichini

    (Northwestern University School of Law, University of Bonn, Institute for Applied Microeconomics)

We measure a specific form of other-regarding behavior, costly cooperation with an anonymous other, among 645 subjects at a trucker training program in the Midwestern US. Using a sequential, strategic form of the Prisoners’ Dilemma, we categorize subjects as: Free Rider, Conditional Cooperator, and Unconditional Cooperator. We observe the subjects on the job for up to two years afterwards in two naturally-occurring choices—whether to send two types of satellite uplink messages from their trucks. The first identifies trailers requiring repair, which benefits fellow drivers, while the second benefits the experimenters by giving them some followup data. Because of the specific nature of the technology and job conditions (which we carefully review) each of these otherwise situationally similar field decisions represents an act of costly cooperation towards an anonymous other in a setting that does not admit of repeated-game or reputation-effect explanations. We find that individual differences in costly cooperation observed in the lab do predict individual differences in the field in the first choice but not the second. We suggest that this difference is linked to the difference in the social identities of the beneficiaries (fellow drivers versus experimenters), and we conjecture that whether or not individual variations in pro-sociality generalize across settings (whether in the lab or field) may depend in part on this specific contextual factor: whether the social identities, and the relevant prescriptions (or norms) linked to them that are salient for subjects (as in Akerlof and Kranton (2000); (2010)), are appropriately parallel.

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File URL: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/cedex/documents/papers/cedex-discussion-paper-2015-21.pdf
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Paper provided by The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham in its series Discussion Papers with number 2015-21.

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Date of creation: 2015
Handle: RePEc:not:notcdx:2015-21
Contact details of provider: Postal:
School of Economics University of Nottingham University Park Nottingham NG7 2RD

Phone: (44) 0115 951 5620
Fax: (0115) 951 4159
Web page: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/economics/cedex/

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