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On Peer Effects: Contagion of Pro- and Anti-Social Behavior in Charitable Giving and The Role of Social Identity

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  • Eugen Dimant

    () (Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

Abstract

Social interactions and the resulting peer effects loom large in both economic and social contexts. This is particularly true for the spillover of pro- and anti-social behavior in explaining how such behavior and norms spread across individual people, neighborhoods, or even cultures. Although we observe the outcomes of such contagion effects, little is known about the drivers and the underlying mechanisms, especially with respect to the role of social identity with one’s peers and the pro- and anti-sociality of behavior one is exposed to. We use a variant of a power-to-take dictator game to shed light on these aspects in a controlled laboratory setting. Our experiment contributes to the existing literature in two ways: first, using a novel approach of inducing social identification with one’s peers in the lab, our design allows us to analyze the spillover-effects of behavior under varied levels of social identity. Second, we study whether pro- and anti-social behavior are equally contagious. Our results suggest that anti-social behavior is more contagious than pro-social behavior and that the extent of social identification to one’s peers particularly drives the contagion of anti-social behavior. Our findings yield strong policy implications with regards to designing effective nudges and interventions to facilitate (reduce) pro- (anti-) social behavior.

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  • Eugen Dimant, 2016. "On Peer Effects: Contagion of Pro- and Anti-Social Behavior in Charitable Giving and The Role of Social Identity," PPE Working Papers 0006, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
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    143. David Smerdon & Theo Offerman & Uri Gneezy, 2016. "Everybody's doing it: On the Emergence and Persistence of Bad Social Norms," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 16-023/I, Tinbergen Institute.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:pdn:wpaper:70 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Gary Bolton & Eugen Dimant & Ulrich Schmidt, 2018. "When a Nudge Backfires. Using Observation with Social and Economic Incentives to Promote Pro-Social Behavior," PPE Working Papers 0017, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    3. Cristina Bicchieri & Eugen Dimant, 2019. "Nudging with Care: The Risks and Benefits of Social Information," Discussion Papers 2019-02, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    4. Banerjee, Ritwik & Gupta, Nabanita Datta & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2018. "The spillover effects of affirmative action on competitiveness and unethical behavior," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 567-604.
    5. Götte, Lorenz & Tripodi, Egon, 2018. "Social Influence in Prosocial Behavior:Evidence from a Large-Scale Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 13078, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. repec:eee:jetheo:v:180:y:2019:i:c:p:100-134 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Banerjee, Ritwik & Gupta, Nabanita Datta & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2018. "The spillover effects of affirmative action on competitiveness and unethical behavior," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 567-604.
    8. Dimant, Eugen, 2015. "On Peer Effects: Behavioral Contagion of (Un)Ethical Behavior and the Role of Social Identity," MPRA Paper 68732, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. repec:pdn:wpaper:79 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    anti-social behavior; behavioral contagion; charitable giving; peer effects; social identity;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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