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Prosocial and moral behavior under decision reveal in a public environment

Per A. Andersson, Arvid Erlandsson, Daniel Västfjäll and Gustav Tinghög

Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), 2020, vol. 87, issue C

Abstract: People may act differently in public environments due to actual reputation concerns, or due to the mere presence of others. Unlike previous studies on the influence of observability on prosocial behavior we control for the latter while manipulating the former, i.e. we control for implicit reputation concerns while manipulating explicit. We show that revealing decisions in public did not affect altruistic behavior, while it increased cooperation and made subjects less likely to make utilitarian judgments in sacrificial dilemmas (i.e., harming one to save many). Our findings are in line with theoretical models suggesting that people, at large, are averse to standing out in both positive and negative ways when it comes to altruistic giving. This “wallflower effect” does however not seem to extend to decisions on cooperation and moral judgments made in public.

Keywords: Altruistic behavior; Cooperation; Moral Judgments; Observability; Audience effect; Image concerns (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D71 D64 H41 C91 C92 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2020.101561

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