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Responsibility-allevation and effort provision in a gift-exchange experiment

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  • Gary Charness

Abstract

Previous indirect evidence suggests that impulses towards pro-social behavior are diminished when an external authority is responsible for an outcome. The responsibility-alleviation effect states that a shift of responsibility to an external authority dampens internal impulses toward honesty, loyalty, or generosity. In a gift-exchange experiment, we find that subjects respond with more generosity (higher effort) when a wage is determined by a random process than when it is assigned by a third party, indicating that even a slight shift in perceived responsibility for the final payoffs can change behavior. Responsibility-alleviation is a factor in economic environments featuring substantial personal interaction.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary Charness, 1998. "Responsibility-allevation and effort provision in a gift-exchange experiment," Economics Working Papers 322, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:322
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    Keywords

    Responsibility; social behavior; experiment; generosity; Leex;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J52 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Dispute Resolution: Strikes, Arbitration, and Mediation

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