Persuasion, Justification and the Communication of Social Impact

Tinbergen Instiutute Discussion Paper 2018-067/I

28 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2018

See all articles by Manuel Foerster

Manuel Foerster

University of Hamburg - Department of Economics

Joel J. van der Weele

University of Amsterdam - Center for Experimental Economics and political Decision making (CREED); Tinbergen Institute; Center for Financial Studies (CFS)

Date Written: August 25, 2018

Abstract

We experimentally investigate strategic communication about the impact of prosocial actions, which is central to policy debates about foreign aid or the environment. In our experiment, a “sender” receives an informative but noisy signal about the impact of a charitable donation. She then sends a message to a “receiver”, upon which both subjects choose whether to donate. The sender faces a trade-off between persuading the receiver to act and justifying her own inaction. We find evidence for both motives. Increasing the visibility of the sender’s actions increases the justification motive and makes senders more likely to report low impact, reducing giving among receivers. These results show the intimate links between reputation and communication in moral domains, and help understand the fraught nature of political discussions about social impact.

Keywords: Cheap Talk, Image Concerns, Information Aggregation, Charitable Giving, Economic Experiments

JEL Classification: C91, D83, D91

Suggested Citation

Foerster, Manuel and van der Weele, Joel J., Persuasion, Justification and the Communication of Social Impact (August 25, 2018). Tinbergen Instiutute Discussion Paper 2018-067/I. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3239024 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3239024

Manuel Foerster (Contact Author)

University of Hamburg - Department of Economics ( email )

Von-Melle-Park 5
room 2128 C rise
Hamburg, 20146
Germany

Joel J. Van der Weele

University of Amsterdam - Center for Experimental Economics and political Decision making (CREED) ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/joelvdweele/

Tinbergen Institute ( email )

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA
Netherlands

Center for Financial Studies (CFS) ( email )

Grüneburgplatz 1
Frankfurt am Main, 60323
Germany

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