Bartke, Simon Bosworth, Steven J. Snower, Dennis Chierchia, Gabriele
Kiel Working Paper No. 2054
This study analyzes the stability of preferences through the lens of psychological motives. We report the results of a public goods experiment in which subjects were induced with the motives of Care and Anger through autobiographical recall. Subjects' preferences, beliefs, and perceptions under each motive are compared with those of subjects experiencing a neutral autobiographical recall condition. We find that Care elicits significantly higher contributions than Anger, with Control treatment contributions in between. This is primarily driven by changes in conditional contribution schedules (measuring preferences) across treatments, though higher beliefs explain part of the effect that Care has on giving. These results are robust to checking for comprehension of the game's incentives. We also observe concomitant differences in attention to own and other's payoffs (using mouse tracking) as well as perceptions of the game's incentive structure (harmony) - particularly for subjects motivated by Anger. We interpret our findings as suggesting that people have access to multiple preferences that depend on how they perceive the decision context.
public goods motivation stability of preferences anger care framing