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Directed Altruism and Enforced Reciprocity in Social Networks

  • Quoc-Anh Do

    ()

    (School of Economics, Singapore Management University)

  • Stephen Leider

    (Harvard University)

  • Markus M. Mobius

    (Harvard University)

  • Tanya Rosenblat

    (Iowa State University)

We conduct online field experiments in large real-world social networks in order to decompose prosocial giving into three components: (1) baseline altruism toward randomly selected strangers, (2) directed altruism that favors friends over random strangers, and (3) giving motivated by the prospect of future interaction. Directed altruism increases giving to friends by 52 percent relative to random strangers, while future interaction effects increase giving by an additional 24 percent when giving is socially efficient. This finding suggests that future interaction affects giving through a repeated game mechanism where agents can be rewarded for granting efficiency enhancing favors. We also find that subjects with higher baseline altruism have friends with higher baseline altruism.

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Paper provided by Singapore Management University, School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 17-2008.

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Length: 28 Pages
Date of creation: Nov 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in SMU Economics and Statistics Working Paper Series
Handle: RePEc:siu:wpaper:17-2008
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  2. Stephen Leider & Markus M. Möbius & Tanya Rosenblat & Quoc-Anh Do, 2009. "Directed Altruism and Enforced Reciprocity in Social Networks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1815-1851.
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  17. Chaim Fershtman & Uri Gneezy, 2001. "Discrimination in a Segmented Society: An Experimental Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 351-377.
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