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Beware of popular kids bearing gifts: A framed field experiment

Jingnan Chen, Daniel Houser (), Natalia Montinari and Marco Piovesan ()

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2016, vol. 132, issue PA, 104-120

Abstract: The literature on pro-social behavior shows that older children are more generous than younger children; however, the level of individual generosity is heterogeneous even between children of the same age. This paper investigates whether a child’s popularity affects his/her generosity. Our participants – 231 children, six to twelve years old – decide how many of their four colored wristbands they want to share with another anonymous child. We manipulate the visibility of this decision: in treatment Public, the decisions are revealed to the entire class at the end of the game, whereas in treatment Private children’s decisions remain secret. In addition, we elicited each child’s network of friends using an innovative “seating map” mechanism. Our results reveal that more popular children are more generous in Public than Private decision environments, while less popular children behave similarly in both cases. Moreover, older children in Public display greater generosity than (i) older children in Private and (ii) younger children in either Public or Private. Finally, in Public, older and more popular children share more than less popular older children, and more than younger children regardless of popularity; whereas, in Private there is no effect of popularity on children of any age. Our findings point to another reason to adopt transparent decision making in teams and organizations: it may promote the generosity of some (perhaps especially popular leaders) without detrimentally impacting the pro-sociality of others.

Keywords: Popularity; Status; Children; Field experiment; Public decision making; Pro-social behavior (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C93 J13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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Related works:
Working Paper: Beware of Popular Kids Bearing Gifts: A Framed Field Experiment (2014) Downloads
Working Paper: Beware of Popular Kids Bearing Gifts: A Framed Field Experiment (2014) Downloads
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