Social Risk and the Dimensionality of Intentions
Forthcoming, Management Science
39 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2016
Date Written: October 22, 2016
Previous research has documented a behavioral distinction between "social risk" and natural risk. In particular, people tend to demand a premium on the probability of a favorable outcome in order to expose themselves to a social source of risk rather than a natural source of risk. Several explanations for what drives this social risk premium have been offered, most prominently, (i) an aversion to a counterparty's potentially malign intentions and, (ii) a more general aversion to ceding control to another human with conflicting interests. We propose that a fundamental determinant of the social risk premium may relate to a counterparty's capacity to engage in intentional action. We employ a between-subjects experimental design in which we manipulate subjects' capacity for intentional action. Our design allows us to identify the component of the social risk premium related to an aversion to betrayal, independent of any aversion to ceding control. Further, our results show that intentions are a crucial determinant of the social risk premium. We identify factors that eliminate, and may even change the sign of, the social risk premium. Our results contribute to our understanding of the factors which influence the perception of social risk and have implications for optimal contract design in a wide variety of situations involving social risk.
Keywords: Social Risk, Social Perception, Intention, Betrayal Aversion, Trust
JEL Classification: Z1, C91, D81
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation