Peer effects and social preferences in voluntary cooperation: a theoretical and experimental analysis

Thöni, Christian and Gächter, Simon (2015) Peer effects and social preferences in voluntary cooperation: a theoretical and experimental analysis. Journal of Economic Psychology, 48 . pp. 72-88. ISSN 0167-4870

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Abstract

Social preferences and social influence effects ("peer effects") are well documented, but little is known about how peers shape social preferences. Settings where social preferences matter are often situations where peer effects are likely too. In a gift-exchange experiment with independent payoffs between two agents we find causal evidence for peer effects. Efforts are positively correlated but with a kink: agents follow a low-performing but not a high-performing peer. This contradicts major theories of social preferences which predict that efforts are unrelated, or negatively related. Some theories allow for positively-related efforts but cannot explain most observations. Conformism, norm following and social esteem are candidate explanations.

Item Type: Article
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham UK Campus > Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Economics
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joep.2015.03.001
Depositing User: Gaechter, Simon
Date Deposited: 11 May 2015 09:07
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2016 15:36
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/28759

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