Social preferences and social comparisons

Nosenzo, Daniele (2010) Social preferences and social comparisons. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Chapter 1 introduces the thesis providing an overview of the common themes and methods underlying this research.

Chapter 2 reports an experiment that examines the characteristics of effective leaders in a leader-follower voluntary contributions game. We focus on two factors: leaders’ cooperativeness and their beliefs about followers’cooperativeness. We find that groups perform best when led by cooperatively inclined leaders, partly because they are intrinsically motivated to contribute more than non-cooperative leaders, partly because they are more optimistic about followers’ cooperativeness.

Chapter 3 reports an experiment comparing sequential and simultaneous contributions to a public good in a quasi-linear two-person setting. As predicted, we find that overall provision may be lower under sequential than simultaneous contributions. However, we also find that the distribution of contributions is more equitable than predicted when the first-mover is predicted to free-ride, but not when the second-mover is predicted to free-ride. These results can be explained by second-movers’ willingness to punish free-riders, and unwillingness to reward first-movers who contribute.

Chapter 4 investigates the impact of social comparisons on reciprocal relationships. Using a three-person gift- exchange game we study how employees’ reciprocity towards an employer is affected by pay comparison information (information about what co-workers earn) and effort comparison information (information about how co-workers perform). We find that pay comparison information does not affect reciprocity, while effort comparison information can influence reciprocal relationships in important ways.

Chapter 5 also examines the impact of pay comparisons on effort behaviour. We compare effort in a treatment where co-workers’ wages are secret with effort in two ‘public wages’ treatments differing in whether co-workers’ wages are chosen by an employer, or are fixed exogenously by the experimenter. We find that pay comparisons are detrimental for effort, particularly when coworkers’ wages are exogenous.

Chapter 6 summarises the findings of this research and concludes.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Gaechter, S.
Sefton, M.
Subjects: H Social sciences > HB Economic theory
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Economics
Item ID: 11362
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2010 09:46
Last Modified: 08 May 2020 11:00

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