We conduct a modified dictator game in order to analyze the role self-image concerns play in other-regarding behavior. While we generally follow Konow (2000), a cognitive dissonance-based model of other-regarding behavior in dictator games, we relax one of its assumptions as we allow for individual heterogeneity among individuals' standards of behavior. Subjects' self-image, their belief regarding the average socially appropriate behavior of others and our proxies for the cognitive dissonance costs are positively correlated with the dictator game choices. We also find that subjects whose choices involve two psychologically inconsistent cognitions indeed report higher levels of experienced conflict and take more time for their decisions (our proxies for cognitive dissonance).
cognitive dissonance other-regarding behavior self-image social norms social preferences