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Social Approval, Competition and Cooperation

Xiaofei (Sophia) Pan and Daniel Houser ()

No 1028, Working Papers from George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science

Abstract: HollŠnder (1990) argued that when non-monetary social approval from peers is sufficiently valuable, it works to promote cooperation. HollŠnder, however, did not define the characteristics of environments in which high valued approval is likely to occur. This paper provides evidence from a laboratory experiment indicating that people under competition value approval highly, but only when winners earn visible rewards through approval. The evidence implies that approvalÕs value is tied to signaling motives. Our findings point to new institutions that rely on reward, rather than punishment, to efficiently promote generosity in groups.

Keywords: social approval; cooperation; signaling; competition (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D02 D03 D64 H4 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-evo, nep-exp, nep-gth and nep-soc
Date: 2011-09
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