Giving and sorting among friends: Evidence from a lab-in-the-field experiment

Date: 2013
By: Binzel, Christine
Fehr, Dietmar
Among residents of an informal housing area in Cairo, we examine how dictator giving varies by the social distance between subjects – friend versus stranger – and by the anonymity of the dictator. While giving to strangers is high under anonymity, we find – consistent with Leider et al. (2009) – that (i) a decrease in social distance increases giving, (ii) giving to a stranger and to a friend is positively correlated, and (iii) more altruistic dictators increase their giving less under non-anonymity than less altruistic dictators. However, friends are not alike in their altruistic preferences, suggesting that an individual’s intrinsic preferences may not necessarily be shaped by his (or her) peers. Instead, reciprocal motives seem important, indicating that social relationships may be valued differently when individuals are financially dependent on them. —
Keywords: giving,reciprocity,social distance,networks, sorting
JEL: C93 D64 L14 O12

Comment on Promises and Partnership

Comment on Promises and Partnership

Date: 2011-04-11

By: Cary Deck

Maroš Servátka

Steven Tucker (University of Canterbury)


Charness and Dufwenberg (2006) find that promises increase cooperation and suggest that the behavior of subjects in their experiment is driven by guilt aversion. By modifying the procedures to include a double blind social distance protocol we test an alternative explanation that promise keeping was due to external influence and reputational concerns. Our data are statistically indistinguishable from those of Charness and Dufwenberg and therefore provide strong evidence that their observed effects regarding the impact of communication are due to internal factors and not due to an outside bystander.

Keywords: Experiment; promises; partnership; guilt aversion; psychological game theory; trust; lies; social distance; behavioral economics; hidden action

JEL: C70


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Berg, J., J. Dickhaut, and K. McCabe (1995) “Trust, Reciprocity and Social History,” Games and Economic Behavior, 10 (1), 122-42.

Charness, G. and M. Dufwenberg (2006) “Promises and Partnership,” Econometrica 74(6), 1579-1601.

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