Who's Naughty? Who's Nice? Experiments on Whether Pro-Social Workers are Selected Out of Cutthroat Business Environments
33 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2013
Date Written: October 25, 2013
Levitt and List (2007) conjecture that selection pressures among business people will reduce or eliminate pro-social choices. While recent work comparing students with various adult populations often fails to find that adults are less pro-social, this evidence is not necessarily at odds with the selection hypothesis, which may be most relevant for behavior in cutthroat competitive industries. To examine the selection hypothesis, we compare students with two adult populations deliberately selected from two cutthroat internet industries --- domain trading and adult entertainment (pornography). Across a range of indicators, business people in these industries are more pro-social than students: they are more altruistic, trusting, trustworthy, and lying averse. They also respond differently to shame-based incentives. We offer a theory of reverse selection that can rationalize these findings.
Keywords: Social preferences, Selection, Lying aversion, Shame aversion
JEL Classification: D03, D22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation