Social Heuristics and Social Roles: Intuition Favors Altruism for Women But Not for Men

Forthcoming in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General

23 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2016 Last revised: 29 Jan 2016

David G. Rand

MIT

Victoria Brescoll

Yale School of Management

Jim Everett

University of Oxford

Valerio Capraro

Middlesex University

Helene Barcelo

Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI)

Date Written: January 20, 2016

Abstract

Are humans intuitively altruistic, or does altruism require self-control? A theory of social heuristics, whereby intuitive responses favor typically successful behaviors, suggests that the answer may depend on who you are. In particular, evidence suggests that women are expected to behave altruistically, and are punished for failing to be altruistic, to a much greater extent than men. Thus, women (but not men) may internalize altruism as their intuitive response. Indeed, a meta-analysis of 13 new experiments and 9 experiments from other groups found that promoting intuition increased giving in a Dictator Game among women, but not among men (Study 1). Furthermore, this effect was shown to be moderated by explicit sex role identification (Study 2, N=1,831): the more women described themselves using traditionally masculine attributes (e.g., dominance, independence) relative to traditionally feminine attributes (e.g., warmth, tenderness), the more deliberation reduced their altruism. Our findings shed light on the connection between gender and altruism, and highlight the importance of social heuristics in human prosociality.

Keywords: dual process, altruism, dictator game, prosociality, gender, sex differences

JEL Classification: C70, C79, C90, C91, C92, D64, D70, D71, H41

Suggested Citation

Rand, David G. and Brescoll, Victoria and Everett, Jim and Capraro, Valerio and Barcelo, Helene, Social Heuristics and Social Roles: Intuition Favors Altruism for Women But Not for Men (January 20, 2016). Forthcoming in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2719075

David G. Rand (Contact Author)

MIT ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.daverand.org

Victoria Brescoll

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

Jim Everett

University of Oxford ( email )

South Parks Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3UD
United Kingdom

Valerio Capraro

Middlesex University ( email )

The Burroughs
London, NW4 4BT
United Kingdom

Helene Barcelo

Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) ( email )

17 Gauss Way
Berkley, CA CH 94720
United States

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