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Social Influence in Prosocial Behavior: Evidence from a Large-Scale Experiment

Goette, Lorenz and Tripodi, Egon (2021) 'Social Influence in Prosocial Behavior: Evidence from a Large-Scale Experiment.' Journal of the European Economic Association, 19 (4). pp. 2373-2398. ISSN 1542-4766

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We propose a novel experiment that prevents social learning, thus allowing us to disentangle the underlying mechanisms of social influence. Subjects observe their peer’s incentives, but not their behavior. We find evidence of conformity: when individuals believe that incentives make others contribute more, they also increase their contributions. Conformity is driven by individuals who feel socially close to their peer. However, when incentives are not expected to raise their peer’s contributions, participants reduce their own contributions. Our data is consistent with an erosion of norm-adherence when prosocial behavior of the social reference is driven by extrinsic motives, and cannot be explained by incentive inequality or altruistic crowding out. These findings show scope for social influence in settings with limited observability and offer insights into the mediators of conformity.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Economics, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2021 13:22
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2022 13:38

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