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Journal Article

The Short Arm of Guilt – An Experiment on Group Identity and Guilt Aversion


Morell,  Alexander
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Max Planck Society;

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Morell, A. (2019). The Short Arm of Guilt – An Experiment on Group Identity and Guilt Aversion. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 166, 332-345.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-E1CA-B
In a laboratory experiment, I test whether guilt aversion, i.e., a preference to fulfill the expectations of others, plays out more strongly if agents share an induced social identity. Participants play a dictator game in which they can condition their amount sent on recipients’ beliefs. Dictators either play with a recipient from their own group (ingroup treatment) or from the other group (outgroup treatment). I find that the positive influence of second-order beliefs on how much a dictator sends is stronger in the ingroup treatment. However, the way dictators react to very high expectations does not differ significantly between treatments. In contrast to previous work I do not find that amounts sent are an inversely u-shaped function of recipients’ expectations. Rather, and independently of the treatment, participants tend to ignore very high expectations.