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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Quid pro quo

 

Prosocial preferences do not explain human cooperation in public-goods games

Maxwell Burton-Chellew & Stuart West
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2 January 2013, Pages 216-221

Abstract:
It has become an accepted paradigm that humans have "prosocial preferences" that lead to higher levels of cooperation than those that would maximize their personal financial gain. However, the existence of prosocial preferences has been inferred post hoc from the results of economic games, rather than with direct experimental tests. Here, we test how behavior in a public-goods game is influenced by knowledge of the consequences of actions for other players. We found that (i) individuals cooperate at similar levels, even when they are not informed that their behavior benefits others; (ii) an increased awareness of how cooperation benefits others leads to a reduction, rather than an increase, in the level of cooperation; and (iii) cooperation can be either lower or higher than expected, depending on experimental design. Overall, these results contradict the suggested role of the prosocial preferences hypothesis and show how the complexity of human behavior can lead to misleading conclusions from controlled laboratory experiments.

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Exploring the origins of charitable acts: Evidence from an artefactual field experiment with young children

John List & Anya Samak
Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
An active area of research within economics concerns the underpinnings of why people give to charitable causes. This study takes a new approach to this question by exploring motivations for giving among children aged 3-5. Using data gathered from 122 children, our artefactual field experiment naturally permits us to disentangle pure altruism and warm glow motivators for giving. We find evidence for the existence of pure altruism but not warm glow. Our results suggest pure altruism is a fundamental component of our preferences, and highlight that warm glow preferences found amongst adults likely develop over time. One speculative hypothesis is that warm glow preferences are learned through socialization.

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Accuracy and Consensus in Judgments of Trustworthiness From Faces: Behavioral and Neural Correlates

Nicholas Rule et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Perceivers' inferences about individuals based on their faces often show high interrater consensus and can even accurately predict behavior in some domains. Here we investigated the consensus and accuracy of judgments of trustworthiness. In Study 1, we showed that the type of photo judged makes a significant difference for whether an individual is judged as trustworthy. In Study 2, we found that inferences of trustworthiness made from the faces of corporate criminals did not differ from inferences made from the faces of noncriminal executives. In Study 3, we found that judgments of trustworthiness did not differ between the faces of military criminals and the faces of military heroes. In Study 4, we tempted undergraduates to cheat on a test. Although we found that judgments of intelligence from the students' faces were related to students' scores on the test and that judgments of students' extraversion were correlated with self-reported extraversion, there was no relationship between judgments of trustworthiness from the students' faces and students' cheating behavior. Finally, in Study 5, we examined the neural correlates of the accuracy of judgments of trustworthiness from faces. Replicating previous research, we found that perceptions of trustworthiness from the faces in Study 4 corresponded to participants' amygdala response. However, we found no relationship between the amygdala response and the targets' actual cheating behavior. These data suggest that judgments of trustworthiness may not be accurate but, rather, reflect subjective impressions for which people show high agreement.

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Reciprocity on the Hardwood: Passing Patterns among Professional Basketball Players

Robb Willer, Amanda Sharkey & Seth Frey
PLoS ONE, December 2012

Abstract:
Past theory and research view reciprocal resource sharing as a fundamental building block of human societies. Most studies of reciprocity dynamics have focused on trading among individuals in laboratory settings. But if motivations to engage in these patterns of resource sharing are powerful, then we should observe forms of reciprocity even in highly structured group environments in which reciprocity does not clearly serve individual or group interests. To this end, we investigated whether patterns of reciprocity might emerge among teammates in professional basketball games. Using data from logs of National Basketball Association (NBA) games of the 2008-9 season, we estimated a series of conditional logistic regression models to test the impact of different factors on the probability that a given player would assist another player in scoring a basket. Our analysis found evidence for a direct reciprocity effect in which players who had "received" assists in the past tended to subsequently reciprocate their benefactors. Further, this tendency was time-dependent, with the probability of repayment highest soon after receiving an assist and declining as game time passed. We found no evidence for generalized reciprocity - a tendency to "pay forward" assists - and only very limited evidence for indirect reciprocity - a tendency to reward players who had sent others many assists. These findings highlight the power of reciprocity to shape human behavior, even in a setting characterized by extensive planning, division of labor, quick decision-making, and a focus on inter-group competition.

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The Consequences of Faking Anger in Negotiations

Stéphane Côté, Ivona Hideg & Gerben van Kleef
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
Past research has found that showing anger induces cooperative behavior from counterparts in negotiations. We build on and extend this research by examining the effects of faking anger by surface acting (i.e., showing anger that is not truly felt inside) on the behavior of negotiation counterparts. We specifically propose that surface acting anger leads counterparts to be intransigent due to reduced trust. In Experiment 1, surface acting anger increased demands in a face-to-face negotiation, relative to showing no emotion, and this effect was mediated by (reduced) trust. In Experiment 2, surface acting anger increased demands in a video-mediated negotiation, relative to showing no emotion, and this effect was explained by (reduced) trust, as in Experiment 1. By contrast, deep acting anger (i.e., showing anger that is truly felt inside) decreased demands, relative to showing no emotion, and this effect was explained by (increased) perceptions of toughness, consistent with prior research on the effects of showing anger in negotiations. The findings show that a complete understanding of the role of anger in negotiations requires attention to how it is regulated. In addition, the results suggest that faking emotions using surface acting strategies may generally be detrimental to conflict resolution.

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The height leadership advantage in men and women: Testing evolutionary psychology predictions about the perceptions of tall leaders

Nancy Blaker et al.
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, January 2013, Pages 17-27

Abstract:
Research suggests that tall individuals have an advantage over short individuals in terms of status, prestige, and leadership, though it is not clear why. Applying an evolutionary psychology perspective, we predicted that taller individuals are seen as more leader-like because they are perceived as more dominant, healthy, and intelligent. Being fit and physically imposing were arguably important leadership qualities in ancestral human environments - perhaps especially for males - where being a leader entailed considerable physical risks. In line with our expectations, our results demonstrate that by manipulating an individual's stature height positively influences leadership perception for both men and women, though the effect is stronger for men. For male leaders this height leadership advantage is mediated by their perceived dominance, health, and intelligence; while for female leaders this effect is only mediated by perceived intelligence.

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Trustworthy-Looking Face Meets Brown Eyes

Karel Kleisner et al.
PLoS ONE, January 2013

Abstract:
We tested whether eye color influences perception of trustworthiness. Facial photographs of 40 female and 40 male students were rated for perceived trustworthiness. Eye color had a significant effect, the brown-eyed faces being perceived as more trustworthy than the blue-eyed ones. Geometric morphometrics, however, revealed significant correlations between eye color and face shape. Thus, face shape likewise had a significant effect on perceived trustworthiness but only for male faces, the effect for female faces not being significant. To determine whether perception of trustworthiness was being influenced primarily by eye color or by face shape, we recolored the eyes on the same male facial photos and repeated the test procedure. Eye color now had no effect on perceived trustworthiness. We concluded that although the brown-eyed faces were perceived as more trustworthy than the blue-eyed ones, it was not brown eye color per se that caused the stronger perception of trustworthiness but rather the facial features associated with brown eyes.

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Simulating Social Dilemmas: Promoting Cooperative Behavior Through Imagined Group Discussion

Rose Meleady, Tim Hopthrow & Richard Crisp
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
A robust finding in social dilemmas research is that individual group members are more likely to act cooperatively if they are given the chance to discuss the dilemma with one another. The authors investigated whether imagining a group discussion may represent an effective means of increasing cooperative behavior in the absence of the opportunity for direct negotiation among decision makers. Five experiments, utilizing a range of task variants, tested this hypothesis. Participants engaged in a guided simulation of the progressive steps required to reach a cooperative consensus within a group discussion of a social dilemma. Results support the conclusion that imagined group discussion enables conscious processes that parallel those underlying the direct group discussion and is a strategy that can effectively elicit cooperative behavior. The applied potential of imagined group discussion techniques to encourage more socially responsible behavior is discussed.

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Positive fantasies dampen charitable giving when many resources are demanded

Heather Barry Kappes, Eesha Sharma & Gabriele Oettingen
Journal of Consumer Psychology, January 2013, Pages 128-135

Abstract:
Previous research found that positive fantasies about an idealized future yield low energy to pursue the fantasized future. We examined how positive fantasies about the resolution of a crisis (i.e., a lack of pain medication in Sierra Leone, the risk of flooding after Hurricane Irene) influence people's agreement to donate to charitable efforts directed at crisis resolution. In three studies, positive fantasies dampened the likelihood of agreeing to donate a relatively large amount of money, effort, or time, but did not affect the likelihood of agreeing to donate a relatively small amount of these resources. The effect of positive fantasies was mediated by perceiving the donation of larger (but not smaller) amounts of resources as overly demanding. These findings suggest that charitable solicitations requesting small donations might benefit from stimulating positive fantasies in potential donors, but those requesting large donations could be hurt.

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"The Big Society," Public Expenditure, and Volunteering

Koen Bartels, Guido Cozzi & Noemi Mantovan
Public Administration Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
The debate on volunteering has paid insufficient attention to the relationship between public spending and volunteering. The importance of this relationship is highlighted by the British government's "Big Society" plan, which asserts that an increase in volunteering will compensate for the withdrawal of public agencies and spending. This idea is based on the widely held belief that a high degree of government intervention decreases voluntary activities. This article uses a multidisciplinary approach to improve understanding of how public spending affects the decision to volunteer. A theoretical model conceptualizes this relationship in terms of time donation by employed individuals. The model is tested empirically through an econometric analysis of two survey data sets and interpretative analysis of narratives of local volunteers and public professionals. The results suggest that volunteering is likely to decline when government intervention decreases and that a collaborative approach to sustaining volunteering is needed.

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Reference-Dependent Preferences and Charitable Giving

Sungmun Choi
Princeton Working Paper, November 2012

Abstract:
Reflecting the increasing volume of charitable giving, economic research on charitable giving has been receiving a lot of attention from economists. Most studies on the supply side of charitable giving estimate the effects of price and income changes on the amount of charitable giving. In this paper, however, I find a new behavioral response of individuals to their income changes. Specifically, I introduce a model of charitable giving with reference-dependent preferences of individuals. From this model, I derive novel and testable implications. When the consumption level is above the reference level, individuals increase charitable giving as their income rises. However, when the consumption level is below the reference level, they decrease charitable giving as their income rises. This is in stark contrast to the positive income effect that is taken for granted in virtually all studies on charitable giving. Using data from the 2007 Survey of Consumer Finances, I confirm the predictions of the model, suggesting that people may indeed have reference-dependent preferences.

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Paying It Forward: Generalized Reciprocity and the Limits of Generosity

Kurt Gray, Adrian Ward & Michael Norton
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming

Abstract:
When people are the victims of greed or recipients of generosity, their first impulse is often to pay back that behavior in kind. What happens when people cannot reciprocate, but instead have the chance to be cruel or kind to someone entirely different - to pay it forward? In 5 experiments, participants received greedy, equal, or generous divisions of money or labor from an anonymous person and then divided additional resources with a new anonymous person. While equal treatment was paid forward in kind, greed was paid forward more than generosity. This asymmetry was driven by negative affect, such that a positive affect intervention disrupted the tendency to pay greed forward. Implications for models of generalized reciprocity are discussed.

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Default Distrust? An fMRI investigation of the neural development of trust and cooperation

Anne-Kathrin Fett et al.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, forthcoming

Abstract:
The tendency to trust and to cooperate increases from adolescence to adulthood. This social development has been associated with improved mentalising and age-related changes in brain function. Thus far, there is limited imaging data investigating these associations. We used two trust games with a trustworthy and an unfair partner to explore the brain mechanisms underlying trust and cooperation in subjects ranging from adolescence to mid-adulthood. Increasing age was associated with higher trust at the onset of social interactions, increased levels of trust during interactions with a trustworthy partner and a stronger decline in trust during interactions with an unfair partner. Our findings demonstrate a behavioural shift towards higher trust and an age-related increase in the sensitivity to others' negative social signals. Increased brain activation in mentalising regions, i.e. temporo-parietal junction, posterior cingulate and precuneus, supported the behavioural change. Additionally, age was associated with reduced activation in the reward related orbitofrontal cortex and caudate nucleus during interactions with a trustworthy partner, possibly reflecting stronger expectations of trustworthiness. During unfair interactions age-related increases in anterior cingulate activation, an area implicated in conflict monitoring, may mirror the necessity to inhibit pro-social tendencies in the face of the partner's actual levels of cooperation.

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A Gift is Not Always a Gift: Heterogeneity and Long-term Effects in a Gift Exchange Experiment

Sascha Becker, Dolores Messer & Stefan Wolter
Economica, forthcoming

Abstract:
We study gift exchange in a field experiment where a random subsample of participants in the Swiss Labour Force Survey received vouchers to be used in adult training. Actual voucher redemption can be traced, giving us the unique opportunity to study whether gift exchange in the form of participation in future rounds of the survey depends on the perceived usefulness of the gift. The group of voucher recipients as a whole has significantly higher response rates. There is considerable heterogeneity, however. Our results point to a long-lasting gift exchange relationship only for the subgroup that redeemed their vouchers.

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Reputation-based partner choice is an effective alternative to indirect reciprocity in solving social dilemmas

Karolina Sylwester & Gilbert Roberts
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
When group interests clash with individual ones, maintaining cooperation poses a problem. However, cooperation can be facilitated by introducing reputational incentives. Through indirect reciprocity, people who cooperate in a social dilemma are more likely to receive cooperative acts from others. Another mechanism that enhances group cooperation is reputation-based partner choice, or competitive altruism. According to this framework, cooperators benefit via increased access to cooperative partners. Our study compared the effectiveness of indirect reciprocity and competitive altruism in re-establishing cooperation after the typical decline found during repeated public goods games. Twenty groups of four participants first played a series of public goods games, which confirmed the expected decline. Subsequently, public goods games were alternated with either indirect reciprocity games (in which participants had an opportunity to give to another individual from whom they would never receive a direct return) or competitive altruism games (in which they could choose partners for directly reciprocal interactions). We found that public goods game contributions increased when interspersed with competitive altruism games; they were also higher than in public goods games interspersed with indirect reciprocity games. Investing in reputation by increasing contributions to public goods was a profitable strategy in that it increased returns in subsequent competitive altruism and indirect reciprocity games. There was also some evidence that these returns were greater under competitive altruism than indirect reciprocity. Our findings indicate that strategic reputation building through competitive altruism provides an effective alternative to indirect reciprocity as a means for restoring cooperation in social dilemmas.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM