Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/200435
Authors: 
Bolton, Gary E.
Dimant, Eugen
Schmidt, Ulrich
Year of Publication: 
2019
Series/Report no.: 
CeDEx Discussion Paper Series 2019-03
Abstract: 
Both theory and recent empirical evidence on nudging suggest that observability of behavior acts as an instrument for promoting (discouraging) pro-social (anti-social) behavior. Our study questions the universality of these claims. We employ a novel four-party setup to disentangle the roles that the relevant observational mechanisms play in affecting pro-/antisocial behavior. We systematically vary the observability of one's actions by others as well as the (non-)monetary relationship between observer and observee. Observability involving economic incentives crowds-out anti-social behavior in favor of more pro-social behavior. Surprisingly, observation without economic consequences fails to achieve any aggregate pro-social effect, and if anything it backfires. In additional experiments we confirm that this backfiring effect is driven by inequity concerns. We propose and successfully test a solution: increasing the focus on the underlying social norms.
Subjects: 
Anti-Social Behavior
Experiment
Nudge
Pro-Social Behavior
Reputation
JEL: 
C91
D64
D9
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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