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When happy people make society unhappy: How incidental emotions affect compliance behavior

Author

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  • Fochmann, Martin
  • Hechtner, Frank
  • Kirchler, Erich
  • Mohr, Peter N. C.

Abstract

Emotions have a strong impact on our everyday life, including our mental health, sleep pattern, overall well-being, and judgment and decision making. Our paper is the first study to show that incidental emotions, i.e., emotions not related to the actual choice problem, influence the compliance behavior of individuals. In particular, we provide evidence that individuals have a lower willingness to comply with social norms after being primed with positive incidental emotions compared with aversive emotions. This result is replicated in a second study. As an extension to our first study, we add a neutral condition as a control. Willingness to comply in this condition ranges between the other two conditions. Importantly, this finding indicates that the valence of an emotion but not its arousal drives the influence on compliance behavior. Furthermore, we show that priming with incidental emotions is only effective if individuals are - at least to some extent - emotionally sensitive.

Suggested Citation

  • Fochmann, Martin & Hechtner, Frank & Kirchler, Erich & Mohr, Peter N. C., 2019. "When happy people make society unhappy: How incidental emotions affect compliance behavior," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 237, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:arqudp:237
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Janina Enachescu & Ziga Puklavec & Jerome Olsen & Erich Kirchler, 2021. "Tax compliance is not fundamentally influenced by incidental emotions: An experiment," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 345-362, December.
    2. Janina Enachescu & Žiga Puklavec & Christian Martin Bauer & Jerome Olsen & Erich Kirchler & James Alm, 2019. "Incidental Emotions, Integral Emotions, and Decisions to Pay Taxes," Working Papers 1909, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    3. Privitera, Alessandra & Enachescu, Janina & Kirchler, Erich & Hartmann, Andre Julian, 2021. "Emotions in Tax Related Situations Shape Compliance Intentions: A Comparison between Austria and Italy," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 92(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    compliance behavior; emotions; cheating; tax evasion; norms; experimental economics;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance

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