Conveniently Upset: Avoiding Altruism by Distorting Beliefs About Others’ Altruism

38 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2015

See all articles by Rafael Di Tella

Rafael Di Tella

Harvard Business School - Business, Government and the International Economy Unit; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Ricardo Perez-Truglia

University of California, Berkeley; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Andres Babino

University of Buenos Aires (UBA)

Mariano Sigman

Universidad Torcuato Di Tella - Laboratorio de Neurociencia

Date Written: May 1, 2015

Abstract

We present results from a “corruption game” (a dictator game modified so that recipients can take a side payment in exchange for accepting a reduction in the overall size of the pie). Dictators (silently) treated to be able to take more of the recipient’s tokens, took more of them. They were also more likely to believe that recipients had accepted side payments, even if there was a prize for accuracy. The results favor the hypothesis that people avoid altruistic actions by distorting beliefs about others’ altruism. Our favorite estimates suggest that the self-serving bias increases the allocator’s probability belief that the seller took the “unkind” action by 20 percentage points, and makes the allocator take an additional 2.5 (out of 10) tokens from the seller.

Keywords: beliefs, self-serving bias, cognitive dissonance, dictator game

JEL Classification: P16, E62

Suggested Citation

Di Tella, Rafael and Perez-Truglia, Ricardo and Babino, Andres and Sigman, Mariano, Conveniently Upset: Avoiding Altruism by Distorting Beliefs About Others’ Altruism (May 1, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2620404 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2620404

Rafael Di Tella

Harvard Business School - Business, Government and the International Economy Unit ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States
617-495-5048 (Phone)
617-496-5985 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.people.hbs.edu/rditella/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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Ricardo Perez-Truglia (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Andres Babino

University of Buenos Aires (UBA) ( email )

Av. Cordoba 2122
Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires 1120
Argentina

Mariano Sigman

Universidad Torcuato Di Tella - Laboratorio de Neurociencia ( email )

Minones 2159
C1428ATG Buenos Aires, 1428
Argentina

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