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

See all articles by Mitchell Hoffman

Mitchell Hoffman

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

John Morgan

University of California, Berkeley - Economic Analysis & Policy Group

Date Written: October 25, 2013

Abstract

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

Hoffman, Mitchell and Morgan, John, Who's Naughty? Who's Nice? Experiments on Whether Pro-Social Workers are Selected Out of Cutthroat Business Environments (October 25, 2013). Rotman School of Management Working Paper No. 2345102. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2345102 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2345102

Mitchell Hoffman

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

John Morgan (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Economic Analysis & Policy Group ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
510-642-2669 (Phone)
810-885-5959 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.haas.berkeley.edu/rjmorgan/

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