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Previous research shows that women are more altruist than men in dictator game experiments. Yet, little is known whether women are expected to be more altruist than men. Here we elicit third-parties' beliefs about dictators' donations conditional on knowing the gender of the dictator. Our data provide evidence of three main findings: (i) women are expected to be more altruist than men; (ii) both men and women have correct beliefs about the level of altruism among men; and (iii) both men and women overestimate the level of altruism among women. In doing so, our results uncover a perception gap according to which, although women are more altruist than men, they are expected to be even more altruist than they actually are.
arXiv:1606.04900v1 [physics.soc-ph] 15 Jun 2016
Gender differences in altruism:
Expectations, actual behaviour and accuracy of beliefs
Pablo Brañas-Garza
, Valerio Capraro
, Ericka Rascón-Ramírez
June 16, 2016
Previous research shows that women are more altruist than men in dictator game ex-
periments. Yet, little is known whether women are expected to be more altruist than men.
Here we elicit third-parties’ beliefs about dictators’ donations conditional on knowing the
gender of the dictator. Our data provide evidence of three main findings: (i) women are
expected to be more altruist than men; (ii) both men and women have correct beliefs about
the level of altruism among men; and (iii) both men and women overestimate the level
of altruism among women. In doing so, our results uncover a perception gap according
to which, although women are more altruist than men, they are expected to be even more
altruist than they actually are.
Keywords: dictator game, expectations, accuracy of beliefs, gender differences.
1 Introduction
The exploration of gender differences in
decision making has a long tradition in be-
havioural economics and other social sci-
ences, and has touched several research ar-
eas, including risk-aversion, competitive be-
haviour, and social preferences.
For example, a classical study by Eckel
and Grossman (2002) has shown that women
are more risk averse than men, while an
equally classical study by Niederle and
Vesterlund (2007) has shown that women
are less competitive than men. In terms of
social preferences, results are more mixed:
while previous research has not uncovered
any obvious gender difference in cooperative
behaviour (see Croson and Gneezy (2009)
for a review), experimental studies have re-
peatedly found that women are, on average,
more altruist than men (Bolton and Katok
(1995); Eckel and Grossman (1998);
Andreoni and Vesterlund (2001);Dufwenberg and Muren
(2006); Houser and Schunk (2009);
Dreber et al. (2014); Capraro and Marcelletti
(2014); Capraro (2015)). More recently,
Economics Department, Middlesex University London, Business School, The Burroughs, London NW4 4BT,
United Kingdom.
Center for Mathematics and Computer Science, Science Park 123, 1098 XG, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Rand et al. (2016) have extended this line
of research by showing, through a meta-
analysis of 22 studies, that promoting intu-
ition versus reflection increases altruistic be-
haviour among women, but not among men,
suggesting that women but not men have
internalised altruism as their spontaneous re-
Other studies have shown that women
tend to be more altruistic than men when in-
vesting in human capital for children. For
example, women allocate more resources
for women’s and children’s clothing relative
to men’s clothing (Lundberg et al. (1997)),
invest more in health and nutrition for
children (Duflo (2000)), and spend more
on child goods and small scale livestock
(Rubalcava et al. (2009)) than men.
Despite the vast research in gender dif-
ferences, the literature has mostly neglected
the inverse question of whether people have
gender stereotypes in specific decisional
settings. Understanding whether people
have correct beliefs about others’ behaviour
is an important question per se, because
the standard equilibrium analysis assumes
that people strategise on their beliefs about
their counterparts’ behaviour (Camerer et al.
(2004)); and it becomes even more important
when it comes to gender differences, since
one of the dominant explanations for gender
differences in decision-making relies on the
assumption that the behaviour of men and
women is governed by stereotypes regard-
ing their social roles (Eagly (1987); Brescoll
(2011)). In sum, understanding whether
there is a correspondence between stereo-
types of men and women and their actual be-
haviour is an important question, with poten-
tial consequences in economic and psycho-
logical modelling.
Given the aforementioned literature
showing that women are more altruistic than
men, here we ask whether this gender dif-
ference in behaviour corresponds to a gender
difference in stereotypes. We move a first
step into this research area by starting from
a simple question: are women expected to be
more altruistic than men?
To the best of our knowledge, only a
handful of papers have approached this ques-
tion, and mostly did so from a psychologi-
cal perspective. For example, Heilman and
Chen (2005) showed that work-related altru-
ism is less optional for women than for men,
and Heilman and Okimoto (2007) showed
that penalties for women’s success in male
domains result from the perceived violation
of gender-stereotypic prescriptions. From an
economic perspective, we are aware of only
one study devoted to eliciting participants’
beliefs about the level of altruism in men
and women (Aguiar et al. (2009)). In this
lab experiment, subjects were presented with
two boxes, A and B, where A contained do-
nations left by men and B contained dona-
tions left by women. Subjects were informed
that they could choose only one of the two
boxes and one donation would be taken at
random from the selected box and used to
pay them. Results showed that subjects
were more likely to select donations from the
"women" box, indicating that women were
indeed expected to be more generous than
Although it represents an important first
step towards understanding whether women
are expected to be more altruistic than men,
the work by Aguiar et al. (2009) has two
important limitations. First of all, while it
shows that women are expected to be more
generous than men, it does not show whether
people have correct beliefs about the be-
haviour of men and women. Thus, it remains
unclear whether people have correct stereo-
types regarding each gender’s level of altru-
ism. Second, it is only one study: the re-
cent outbreak of the replicability crisis (Open
Science Collaboration, 2015) calls for more
In the current work, we wish to fill these
gaps by: (i) replicating the result that women
are expected to be more generous than men;
and (ii) giving a quantitative version of this
result. This allows to answer the question:
do men and women fulfil people’s expecta-
tions about altruistic behaviour?
The rest of the paper is organised as fol-
lows. Next section is devoted to methods;
section 3 focuses on results and discussion;
last section concludes.
2 Method
2.1 Subject pool
Subjects were living in the US at the time
of the experiment and were recruited using
Amazon Mechanical Turk (Paolacci et al.
(2010); Horton et al. (2011); Mason and Suri
(2012); Paolacci and Chandler (2014))
to play a standard Dictator Game
(Kahneman et al. (1986); Forsythe et al.
In the Dictator Game, one player acts
in the role of the dictator and the other
one in the role of the receiver. Dictators
are given a certain amount of money and
are asked how much, if any, they want to
give to the receiver. Receivers have no
choice and only get what the dictators de-
cide to give. Since dictators have no in-
centives to give money, a payoff-maximising
dictator would donate nothing. For this
reason, dictators’ donations are taken as
a measure of individual’s altruism, or in-
equity aversion (Fehr and Schmidt (1999);
Bolton and Ockenfels (2000); Brañas-Garza
(2006, 2007); Charness and Gneezy (2008)).
2.2 Protocol
In our experiment, subjects were randomly
divided between dictators and receivers.
Dictators: They were given $0.20 and were
asked to decide how much, if any, to give
to the receiver. Before making their deci-
sion, dictators were asked two comprehen-
sion questions. Specifically, they were asked
which choice would maximise their payoff
and which choice would maximise the re-
ceiver’s payoff. Subjects failing any com-
prehension question were automatically ex-
cluded from the survey. This screening pro-
cedure had the effect that we had fewer dic-
tators (N= 456) than receivers (N= 530).
Thus, the computation of receivers’ payoffs
is not straightforward, since there is no one-
to-one correspondence between dictators and
receivers. To address this problem, receivers
were sequentially paired with a randomly se-
lected dictator; in case a dictator was already
used to pay another receiver, we paid the
current recipient ‘out of our pocket’, and not
using the donation of that dictator, because
that donation had already been used. This
procedure is doable on Amazon Mechanical
Turk, because participants are matched only
after the end of the experiment.
Receivers: A part from potentially receiving
money from dictators, receivers played also
as guessers. Specifically, they were asked
to predict the donation that another dicta-
tor would make to another receiver. They
would receive, on top of the actual dona-
tion, $0.20 reward for correct guesses. Since
they do not guess their own donation there is
no opportunity to hedge (Brañas-Garza et al.
(2016)). To elicit recipients’ expectations,
we designed four treatments:
On: recipients were presented with the
same screenshots shown to dictators
and they were asked to guess the dic-
tator’s decision (N= 134);
Omow: was identical to Onwith the only dif-
ference that recipients were informed
that the dictator was either a man or a
woman (N= 140).
Om: was identical to Onwith the only dif-
ference that recipients were informed
that the dictator was a man (N= 124);
Ow: was identical to Omwith the only dif-
ference that recipients were informed
that the dictator was a woman (N=
We need both Onand Omow baselines for
two reasons: on the one hand, by comparing
Omand Owwith Omow, separately, we may
investigate the effect of making one partic-
ular gender salient versus making both gen-
ders salient; on the other hand, by comparing
dictators’ donations with On, we can explore
whether people have correct beliefs about the
level of altruism in anonymous strangers.
3 Results
3.1 Descriptive statistics
A total of 986 subjects (56% men, mean age
= 34.5 years) participated in our experiment.
The average donation was 27.3% of the to-
tal endowment, which is very close to the
average donation reported in Engel’s meta-
analysis of 616 Dictator game experiments
conducted in the standard physical labora-
tory (28.3%, Engel (2011)). This confirms
the reliability of data collected on Amazon
Mechanical Turk using very small stakes, a
fact that was already observed in the con-
text of the Dictator Game by d’Adda et al.
(2015). Although the pie size was $0.20 data
are normalised such that the donations corre-
spond to 0-10. Next we pass to the analysis
of treatment effects.
3.2 Gender framed vs non-
framed treatments
As a preliminary step we start by looking at
framing effects on recipients’ beliefs. Both
treatments Onand Omow report similar aver-
ages (2.79 and 3.16, resp.). Table 1 shows no
significant differences between Onand Omow
(t-test, p= 0.24; z-test, p= 0.23). Sim-
ilarly, we do not find significant differences
between OmOwand Omow (t-test, p= 0.89;
z-test, p= 0.84). Hence, the sum of ‘men’
and ‘women’ frames is equal to the treatment
in which ‘both’ genders are mentioned.
Therefore, we may conclude that men-
tioning ‘gender’ does not frame recipients
3.3 Are women expected to be
more generous than men?
To answer this question we compare treat-
ment Omwith Omow and treatment Owwith
Omow. Figure 1 shows the distribution of be-
liefs by treatment. Figures 1a, 1band 1c
show the histograms for Om, Omow and Ow,
respectively. While the modal values for ex-
pected behavior of males is 0 (giving noth-
ing) the modal for women (i.e., Ow) and,
to a lesser extent, for women or men (i.e.,
Omow) is the equal split. Average values re-
flect the same result: the mean expected al-
truism in Omis 2.33, while the mean for Omow
is 3.18 (t-test, p= 0.01; z-test, p= 0.01).
Conversely, when the dictator is a ‘woman’,
the mean expected generosity in Owis 4.05,
which is significantly larger than the mean
for Omow (t-test, p= 0.01; z-test, p= 0.00).
Comparing the expected level of generosity
among males and females, Owvs Om, we
observe than the average and median differ-
ences are 1.72 and 4 units, respectively. The
top part of Table 1 shows the relevant tests.
Figure 1ato Figure 1cprovide visual ev-
idence that we can reject the hypothesis that
men are expected to be as altruistic as the av-
erage person and that women are expected to
be as altruistic as the average person.
Figure 1dfocuses on the CDFs (cumu-
lative distribution functions). While males’
CDF is closer to the top right – more selfish
– Females CDF is closer to the bottom left
–more generous. It is easy to check that Ow
stocastically dominates Omwhich is consis-
tent with the test shown in Table 1. The entire
distribution of Owis always toward the right
of the rest of distributions. In sum, women
are expected to me more altruistic than men.
Result 1 Women are expected to be more al-
truistic than men.
3.4 Are women actually more
generous than men?
In the previous subsection, we have shown
that women are expected to be more altru-
istic than men in a Dictator Game. Is this
expectation grounded or not?
Figure 2aand Figure 2brespectively
compare the distribution of donations for
both men and women, and provides visual
evidence that women are, on average, more
altruist than men (means: 3.04 vs 2.49; t-
test, p= 0.03; z-test, p= 0.01). In fact,
giving nothing is the modal value for males
(49.6% gave 0) while giving the equal split
is the modal value for women (48.3% gave
In sum, not only women are expected to
be more generous than men, but they are de
facto more generous than men.
Result 2 Women are more altruistic than
3.5 Do subjects have correct be-
liefs about each gender’s av-
erage level of generosity?
In the previous subsections, we have shown
that women are expected to be more altru-
istic than men and that this expectation is
grounded, in the sense that women are actu-
ally more altruistic than men. Now, we ask
whether people have correct beliefs about
each gender’s average level of generosity.
We begin by observing that subjects
have, on average, correct beliefs about the
average level of altruism. Specifically, the
mean level of altruism across the experiment
(both males and females) is 2.735, while the
mean level of expected generosity in the On
condition is 2.798 (t-test, p= 0.81; z-test,
p= 0.83), see Table 1 bottom). Hence sub-
jects have correct beliefs about average level
of generosity, which in turn means that we
do not observe either wishful thinking or pes-
Next we analyse whether subjects have
correct beliefs about men’s average level of
altruism. Figures 3aanalyses accuracy of be-
liefs for men and shows that there is no dis-
crepancies since both expectations and actual
behavior are almost identical (CDFs are on
Controlling for the gender of the recipi-
ent, we also find that both men and women
have, on average, correct beliefs about men’s
level of altruism (t-test, guess by men p=
0.21 and guess by women p= 0.60; z-test,
guess by men p= 0.22 and guess by women
p= 0.44, see Table 1 bottom).
Result 3 Both men and women have correct
beliefs about average level of generosity in
However Figure 3bshows strong discrep-
ancies between current behaviour and expec-
tations for women: females are not as gen-
erous as they are expected to be (OwCDF
dominates the DwCDF).
This remains true also after controlling
for gender. Both men and women overes-
timate women’s average level of generosity
(t-test, both p-values <0.03; z-test, both p-
values <0.02, see Table 1).
Result 4 Both men and women overestimate
the level of generosity in women.
Table 1: Hypothesis testing
Hypothesis Parametric Tests Non-Parametric Tests
Difference T-test P-Value Difference Z-tests P-value
in Means in Medians
On= Omow -0.38 -1.17 0.24 -2 -1.19 0.23
OmOw= Omow 0.04 0.14 0.89 0 0.20 0.84
Om= Omow -0.85 -2.58 0.01 -4 -2.59 0.01
Ow= Omow 0.87 2.77 0.01 0 2.89 0.00
Om= Ow1.72 5.50 0.00 4 5.51 0.00
D= On-0.06 -0.25 0.81 0 -0.22 0.83
Dm= Om
m0.44 1.26 0.21 1 1.24 0.22
Dm= Ow
m-0.20 -0.53 0.60 -1 -0.78 0.44
Dw= Om
w-0.81 -2.25 0.03 0 -2.28 0.02
Dw= Ow
w-1.27 -3.92 0.00 0 -3.57 0.00
Dw= Dm0.55 2.21 0.03 4 2.36 0.02
Note: t-tests assume unequal variances per treatment and normality of the distribution of
differences in means; z-tests correspond to Mann-Whitney-Wilcoxon non-parametric tests.
Dm(Dw) refers to men (women) dictators; D to any dictator.
4 Conclusion
Here we have used Dictator Game ex-
periments to measure people’s expectations
about dictators’ level of generosity, condi-
tional on knowing the gender of the dicta-
tor. Our data provide evidence of three major
results: (i) women are expected to be more
generous than men (replicating Aguiar et al.
(2009) results); (ii) both men and women
have correct beliefs about the mean level of
generosity among men; (iii) both men and
women overestimate the level of generosity
among women.
In doing so, our experiment uncovers a
perception gap according to which, although
women are more altruist than men, they are
expected to be even more altruistic than they
actually are. This result is particularly puz-
zling since it regards also women: while
women have correct beliefs about the level of
altruism in men, they overestimate the level
of altruism in other women.
We hope that future research can shed
light on the ultimate origin of this percep-
tion gap and on the potential psychological
and economic consequences that can have on
women’s and men’s behaviour.
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Figure 1: Expected behavior for men, women and both
0 .1 .2 .3 .4 .5
(a) Expectations for men [Om]
0 .1 .2 .3 .4 .5
(b) Expectations for either men or women [Omow]
0 .2 .4 .6 .8
(c) Expectations for women [Ow]
0 .2 .4 .6 .8 1
Cumulative distribution
0 2 4 6 8 10
Om Ow
(d) CDFs for Om, Omow and Ow
Figure 2: Actual behaviour: men vs women
0 .1 .2 .3 .4 .5
0 2 4 6 8 10
(a) Actual behaviour of men [Dm]
0 .1 .2 .3 .4 .5
0 2 4 6 8 10
(b) Actual behaviour of women [Dw]
Figure 3: Accuracy of beliefs: Expected vs actual behaviour
0 .2 .4 .6 .8 1
Cumulative distribution
0 2 4 6 8 10
Om (Expected) Dm (Observed)
(a) Accuracy of beliefs for men
0 .2 .4 .6 .8 1
Cumulative distribution
0 2 4 6 8 10
Ow (Expected) Dw (Observed)
(b) Accuracy of beliefs for women
... Hence, we expected lower offers for persons having high trait greed, compared to persons with low trait greed. Additionally, on an exploratory level, we investigated the influence of gender, on the offer decisions in our variants of the dictator game, as there is wide evidence for women getting and offering more in the DG (see also Braaas-Garza et al., 2016;Chowdhury et al., 2020;Engel, 2011;Klinowski, 2018). Secondly, the presence of the suggestion by the receiver was investigated to identify its influence in this informative DG, with the previous finding that the presence of a suggestion led to higher offers in a normal DG (Andreoni & Rao, 2011). ...
... Another interesting finding on trait level is the non-hypothesized gender effect of women offering less money in this DG. Contrary to the finding of the present study, there is wide evidence for the opposite effect in meta-analyses (Engel, 2011), with women getting and offering more in the DG (see also Braaas-Garza et al., 2016;Chowdhury et al., 2020;Klinowski, 2018). As the present results are inconsistent with previous research on gender-specific differences in the DG, the specific setting of the experiment with the unusually high dictator game offers (see Table 3) and the general decision tendencies of men and women could be of importance. ...
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From March to September 2020, researchers working at a biomedical scientific campus in Spain faced two lockdowns and various mobility restrictions that affected their social and professional lifestyles. The working group “Women in Science,” which acts as an independent observatory of scientific gender inequalities on campus launched an online survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on scientific activity, domestic and caregiving tasks, and psychological status. The survey revealed differences in scientific performance by gender: while male researchers participated in a larger number of scientific activities for career development, female researchers performed more invisible scientific tasks, including peer review or outreach activities. Mental impact was greater in researchers caring for children or dependents, and this was aggravated for women. Results spot a disproportionate impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on female scientific career development, and urges for equity measures to mitigate the consequences of an increase in the gender gap in biomedical sciences for current and future pandemics.
... Scholars have examined gender differences in responding to prosocial behaviors and emotions. Research shows that women tend to exhibit more altruistic, unselfish, and communal values compared to men (Brañas- Garza et al., 2016). Relatedly, a recent meta-analysis showed significant gender differences for gender-typed prosocial behaviors among adolescents, including girls reporting higher tendency for prosocial behaviors stereotypically associated with women (i.e. ...
Warmth and competence are two fundamental dimensions of social judgments that shape stereotypes of social groups/professions. In perceiving others, people assess their intentions (warmth) and their abilities to act upon those intentions (competence). As stereotyping can influence attitudes and subsequent behaviors, pre-existing stereotypes of scientists as ‘cold’ may undermine trust in science and interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. How, then, can scientists portray interpersonal warmth? Drawing on the stereotype content model’s warmth-competence literature, this study aimed to communicate scientists’ interpersonal warmth using the morality and emotional aspects of the warmth dimension in the context of a College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) as a test case of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) colleges. We used two, 3 (message type: control, prosocial, emotional-prosocial) × 2 (gender: women, men) between-subjects experimental design (n = 849) to examine the effect of message type and participant’s gender on perceptions of scientists’ interpersonal warmth. Results suggest that the combination of prosocial behaviors and emotional appeals were associated with perceived warmth of scientists. Furthermore, there was a significant interaction between message type and gender (Experiment 1) and a significant main effect of gender on perceived warmth (Experiment 2). These findings suggest further exploration of the morality and sociability aspects associated with warmth to reduce unflattering stereotypes of scientists.
... Furthermore, psychological research has shown that women are expected to be more caring, altruistic and other-oriented [21][22][23][24]. In a dictator game, women [25] or men and women likewise [26] believe that female dictators are more generous. Higher expectations to behave altruistically lead to higher social pressure to act accordingly [22,23,27]. ...
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This paper studies the effects of two different frames on decisions in a dictator game. Before making their allocation decision, dictators read a short text. Depending on the treatment, the text either emphasizes their decision power and freedom of choice or it stresses their responsibility for the receiver’s payoff. Including a control treatment without such a text, three treatments are conducted with a total of 207 dictators. Our results show a different reaction to these texts depending on the dictator’s gender. We find that only men react positively to a text that stresses their responsibility for the receiver, while only women seem to react positively to a text that emphasizes their decision power and freedom of choice.
... As leadership in organizations and firms is still considered a masculine activity, female entrepreneurs present a 'role incongruity' wherein their gender identity and leader identity are a mismatch between gender stereotypes and the desirable leader characteristics. Similarly, lab experiments find that women are perceived to have different social preferences than men such that women are expected to be more generous (Aguiar et al. 2009;Brañas-Garza et al. 2016) and more risk averse (Eckel and Grossman 2002). Weaker perceptions of female firm owners (who are similar in characteristics to male owners) can result in them facing barriers and discrimination at the workplace from employees, from customers and suppliers, in the credit market, as well as in dealing with local authorities for assistance, all of which can affect their firm performance and their ability to undertake investments. ...
... Some earlier research showed that although women are more altruistic than men, they are expected to be even more altruistic than they are, which indicates the perception gap (Garza et al., 2016). The perception gap may mislead the actual expected altruistic behavior and its resolution may reduce the actual differences between men and women. ...
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This quantitative study aims to examine background motives that navigate individuals to share their opinions, in context of individual’s post-vacation phase and its relation to the destination of Serbia, from the standpoint of age, gender and nationality. The data was collected throughout six weeks via web self-administered survey. The survey was adopted and based on the scale developed by Bronner and de Hoog (2011). Results indicate that dominant driver to submit an online review after trip is to help vacationars (altruism) and that males and females display differences in this, but not in other motives. Both age and nationality do not influence the particular motive to leave an online review. The main limitation of this study is the total number of answers. However, sampling was rather purposive which gives us the good indicator of the population behavior. Understanding these drivers is essential in formulating strategies for managing the interaction with opinion leaders. On a larger scale, the results can contribute the market segmentation and customer communication approaches in Serbian tourism marketing. Motives that trigger individual to compose an online review have not been investigated and thematic studies are still missing, in the case of Serbia in particular.
... Furthermore, psychological research has shown that women are expected to be more caring, altruistic and other-oriented (Deaux and Major, 1987;Babcock and Laschever, 2003;Eagly, 2009;Heilman and Chen, 2005). In a dictator game, women (Aguiar et al., 2009) or men and women likewise (Brañas-Garza et al., 2018) believe that female dictators are more generous. Higher expectations to behave altruistically lead to higher social pressure to act accordingly (Eagly, 2009;Babcock and Laschever, 2003;de Wit and Bekkers, 2016). ...
There are numerous situations in which people ask for something or make a request, e.g. asking a favor, asking for help or requesting compliance with specific norms. For this reason, how to ask for something in order to increase people’s willingness to fulfill such requests is one of the most important question for many people working in various different fields of responsibility such as charitable giving, marketing, management or policy making. This dissertation consists of four chapters that deal with the effects of small changes in the decision-making environment on altruistic decision-making and compliance behavior. Most notably, written communication as an influencing factor is the focus of the first three chapters. The starting point was the question how to devise a request in order to maximize its chance of success (Chapter 1). The results of the first chapter originate the ideas for the second and third chapter. Chapter 2 analyzes how communication by a neutral third-party, i.e. a text from the experimenters that either reminds potential benefactors of their responsibility or highlights their freedom of choice, affects altruistic decision-making. Chapter 3 elaborates on the effect of thanking people in advance when asking them for help. While being not as closely related to the other chapters as the three first ones are, the fourth chapter deals as well with the question how compliance (here: compliance with norms and rules) is affected by subtle manipulations of the environment in which decisions are made. This chapter analyzes the effect of default settings in a tax return on tax compliance. In order to study the research questions outlined above, controlled experiments were conducted. Chapter 1, which analyzes the effect of text messages on the decision to give something to another person, employs a mini-dictator game. The recipient sends a free-form text message to the dictator before the latter makes a binary decision whether or not to give part of her or his endowment to the recipient. We find that putting effort into the message by writing a long note without spelling mistakes increases dictators’ willingness to give. Moreover, writing in a humorous way and mentioning reasons why the money is needed pays off. Furthermore, men and women seem to react differently to some message categories. Only men react positively to efficiency arguments, while only women react to messages that emphasize the dictator’s power and responsibility. Building on this last result, Chapter 2 attempts to disentangle the effect of reminding potential benefactors of their responsibility for the potential beneficiary and the effect of highlighting their decision power and freedom of choice on altruistic decision-making by studying the effects of two different texts on giving in a dictator game. We find that only men react positively to a text that stresses their responsibility for the recipient by giving more to her or him, whereas only women seem to react positively to a text that emphasizes their decision power and freedom of choice. Chapter 3 focuses on the compliance with a request. In the experiment, participants are asked to provide a detailed answer to an open question. Compliance is measured by the effort participants spend on answering the question. The treatment variable is whether or not they see the text “thanks in advance.” We find that participants react negatively by putting less effort into complying with the request in response to the phrase “thanks in advance.” Chapter 4 studies the effect of prefilled tax returns with mostly inaccurate default values on tax compliance. In a laboratory experiment, participants earn income by performing a real-effort task and must subsequently file a tax return for three consecutive rounds. In the main treatment, the tax return is prefilled with a default value, resulting from participants’ own performance in previous rounds, which varies in its relative size. The results suggest that there is no lasting effect of a default value on tax honesty, neither for relatively low nor relatively high defaults. However, participants who face a default that is lower than their true income in the first round evade significantly and substantially more taxes in this round than participants in the control treatment without a default.
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The present article aimed to elaborate the Prosocial Personality Inventory (PSPI+), gathering evidence of its validity (factorial and criterion) and reliability. Six traits were hypothesized, grouped into three first-order factors: altruism (beneficence and egotism), forgiveness (remission and incrimination), and gratitude (recognition and inexpressiveness). Two studies were carried out (n = 1,033). This factor structure was identified in Study 1 and confirmed in Study 2. Overall, all factors presented Cronbach’s alpha of .70 or higher. Systematically, positive and negative aspects of prosocial traits were correlated with agreeableness and dark traits. Moreover, such bright traits were positively correlated with self-reported pro-social behavior. In conclusion, the PSPI+ is a short, theoretically and psychometrically sounds instrument for measuring prosocial personality (altruism, forgiveness, and gratitude), useful for studies focusing on correlates of bright personality (e.g., well-being, voluntarism).
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The present study aimed to investigate the sex differences in some prosocial variables, represent in: commitment, gratitude, forgiveness trust, and altruism. The sample consisted of (417) from university students. There were (204 males) with average (19.74 years and standard deviation of 1.05 years), and (213 females) with average (19.58 years and standard deviation of 1.02 years). the participants completed self-report measures of commitment, gratitude, forgiveness trust, and altruism. The results showed that females were more commitment, gratitude, trust, and altruism than males, while there weren't sex differences in forgiveness. Keywords: Prosocial Variables, Commitment, Gratitude, Forgiveness, Trust, Altruism
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Policy interventions are generally evaluated for their direct effectiveness. Little is known about their ability to persist over time and spill across contexts. These latter aspects can reinforce or offset the direct impacts depending on the policy instrument choice. Through an online experiment with 1486 subjects, we compare four widely used policy instruments in terms of their ability to enforce a norm of fairness in the Dictator Game, and to persist over time (i.e., to a subsequent untreated Dictator Game) or spill over to a norm of cooperation (i.e., to a subsequent Prisoner's Dilemma). As specific policy interventions, we employed two instances of nudges: defaults and social information; and two instances of push measures: rebates and a minimum donation rule. Our results show that (i) rebates, the minimum donation rule and social information have a positive direct effect on fairness, although the effect of social information is only marginally significant, and that (ii) the effect of rebates and the minimum donation rule persists in the second game, but only within the same game type. These findings demonstrate that, within our specific design, push measures are more effective than nudges in promoting fairness.
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Are humans intuitively altruistic, or does altruism require self-control? A theory of social heuristics, whereby intuitive responses favor typically successful behaviors, suggests that the answer may depend on who you are. In particular, evidence suggests that women are expected to behave altruistically, and are punished for failing to be altruistic, to a much greater extent than men. Thus, women (but not men) may internalize altruism as their intuitive response. Indeed, a meta-analysis of 13 new experiments and 9 experiments from other groups found that promoting intuition relative to deliberation increased giving in a Dictator Game among women, but not among men (Study 1, N = 4,366). Furthermore, this effect was shown to be moderated by explicit sex role identification (Study 2, N = 1,831): the more women described themselves using traditionally masculine attributes (e.g., dominance, independence) relative to traditionally feminine attributes (e.g., warmth, tenderness), the more deliberation reduced their altruism. Our findings shed light on the connection between gender and altruism, and highlight the importance of social heuristics in human prosociality. (PsycINFO Database Record
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Mechanical Turk (MTurk), an online labor market created by Amazon, has recently become popular among social scientists as a source of survey and experimental data. The workers who populate this market have been assessed on dimensions that are universally relevant to understanding whether, why, and when they should be recruited as research participants. We discuss the characteristics of MTurk as a participant pool for psychology and other social sciences, highlighting the traits of the MTurk samples, why people become MTurk workers and research participants, and how data quality on MTurk compares to that from other pools and depends on controllable and uncontrollable factors.
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Situations where people have to decide between hurting themselves or another person are at the core of many individual and global conflicts. Yet little is known about how people behave when facing these situations in the lab. Here we report a large (N=2.379) experiment in which participants could either take x dollars from another anonymous participant or give y dollars to the same participant. Depending on the experimental treatments, participants were also allowed to exit the game without making any decision, but paying a cost. Across different protocols and parameter specifications, we found three major results: (i) when exiting is allowed and costless, subjects tend to exit the game; (ii) females are more likely than males to exit the game, but only when the cost of the exit is small; (iii) when exiting is not allowed, altruistic actions are more common than predicted by the dominant economic models. In particular, about one sixth of the subjects show hyper-altruistic tendencies, that is, they prefer giving y rather than taking x>y. In doing so, our findings shed light on human decision-making in conflictual situations and suggest that economic models should be revised in order to take into account hyper-altruistic behaviour.
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Actions such as sharing food and cooperating to reach a common goal have played a fundamental role in the evolution of human societies. Despite the importance of such good actions, little is known about if and how they can spread from person to person to person. For instance, does being recipient of an altruistic act increase your probability of being cooperative with a third party? We have conducted an experiment on Amazon Mechanical Turk to test this mechanism using economic games. We have measured willingness to be cooperative through a standard Prisoner's dilemma and willingness to act altruistically using a binary Dictator game. In the baseline treatments, the endowments needed to play were given by the experimenters, as usual; in the control treatments, they came from a good action made by someone else. Across four different comparisons and a total of 572 subjects, we have never found a significant increase of cooperation or altruism when the endowment came from a good action. We conclude that good actions do not necessarily inspire good actions in others. While this is consistent with the theoretical prediction, it challenges the majority of other experimental studies.
Reproducibility is a defining feature of science, but the extent to which it characterizes current research is unknown. We conducted replications of 100 experimental and correlational studies published in three psychology journals using high-powered designs and original materials when available. Replication effects were half the magnitude of original effects, representing a substantial decline. Ninety-seven percent of original studies had statistically significant results. Thirty-six percent of replications had statistically significant results; 47% of original effect sizes were in the 95% confidence interval of the replication effect size; 39% of effects were subjectively rated to have replicated the original result; and if no bias in original results is assumed, combining original and replication results left 68% with statistically significant effects. Correlational tests suggest that replication success was better predicted by the strength of original evidence than by characteristics of the original and replication teams.
We look at gender differences among adolescents in Sweden in preferences for competition, altruism and risk. For competitiveness, we explore two different tasks that differ in associated stereotypes. We find no gender difference in competitiveness when comparing performance under competition to that without competition. We further find that boys and girls are equally likely to self-select into competition in a verbal task, but that boys are significantly more likely to choose to compete in a mathematical task. This gender gap diminishes and becomes non-significant when we control for actual performance, beliefs about relative performance, and risk preferences, or for beliefs only. Girls are also more altruistic and less risk taking than boys.