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Social desirability, approval and public good contribution

  • Daniel John Zizzo

    (University of East Anglia)

  • Piers Fleming

    (University of East Anglia)

Behaviour in public good experiments is usually attributed partly to rational self-interest and partly to social norms and preferences. This paper examines if sensitivity to social desirability affects public good contribution and in what way. A pre-experimental measure of social desirability (SDS17) was used to match partners in a two-person public good game. Half the participants received experimenter approval based upon their investment. Contrary to predictions, the highest public good investment was by low social desirability participants in the approval condition. Social desirability was not positively related to pro-social behaviour. We consider its relation to experimental and social conformity.

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Paper provided by School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. in its series Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) with number 09-11.

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Date of creation: 01 Dec 2009
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Handle: RePEc:uea:wcbess:09-11
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  1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869, August.
  2. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  3. Masclet, D. & Noussair, C. & Tucker, S. & Villeval, M.C., 2001. "Monetary and Non-monetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1141, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  4. Daniel Zizzo, 2003. "Verbal and Behavioral Learning in a Probability Compounding Task," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 54(4), pages 287-314, June.
  5. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H. & Schulze, William D., 1992. "Why do people pay taxes?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 21-38, June.
  6. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  7. Daniel Zizzo, 2010. "Experimenter demand effects in economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 75-98, March.
  8. Perugini, Marco & Tan, Jonathan H. W. & Zizzo, Daniel John, 2005. "Which is the More Predictable Gender? Public Good Contribution and Personality," Discussion Papers 236, European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Department of Business Administration and Economics.
  9. Nicholas Bardsley, 2008. "Dictator game giving: altruism or artefact?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 122-133, June.
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