When Happy People Make Society Unhappy: How Incidental Emotions Affect Compliance Behavior

31 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2018 Last revised: 3 Mar 2019

See all articles by Martin Fochmann

Martin Fochmann

University of Cologne

Frank Hechtner

Free University of Berlin (FUB)

Erich Kirchler

University of Vienna - Faculty of Psychology

Peter Mohr

Free University of Berlin (FUB)

Date Written: March 1, 2019

Abstract

Emotions have a strong impact on our everyday life, including our mental health, sleep pattern, overall well-being, and judgment and decision making. Our paper is the first study to show that incidental emotions, i.e., emotions not related to the actual choice problem, influence the compliance behavior of individuals. In particular, we provide evidence that individuals have a lower willingness to comply with social norms after being primed with positive incidental emotions compared with aversive emotions. This result is replicated in a second study. As an extension to our first study, we add a neutral condition as a control. Willingness to comply in this condition ranges between the other two conditions. Importantly, this finding indicates that the valence of an emotion but not its arousal drives the influence on compliance behavior. Furthermore, we show that priming with incidental emotions is only effective if individuals are – at least to some extent – emotionally sensitive.

Keywords: compliance behavior, emotions, cheating, tax evasion, norms, experimental economics

JEL Classification: C91, D91, H26

Suggested Citation

Fochmann, Martin and Hechtner, Frank and Kirchler, Erich and Mohr, Peter, When Happy People Make Society Unhappy: How Incidental Emotions Affect Compliance Behavior (March 1, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3259071 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3259071

Martin Fochmann (Contact Author)

University of Cologne ( email )

Albertus-Magnus-Platz
Behavioral Accounting/Taxation/Finance
Cologne, 50923
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.taxation.uni-koeln.de/de/team/prof-dr-martin-fochmann/

Frank Hechtner

Free University of Berlin (FUB) ( email )

Garystrasse 21
Berlin, Berlin 14195
Germany

Erich Kirchler

University of Vienna - Faculty of Psychology ( email )

Universitaetsstrasse 7
Vienna, A-1010
Austria
+43 1 42 7747332 (Phone)
+43 1 42 7747339 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://homepage.univie.ac.at/erich.kirchler

Peter Mohr

Free University of Berlin (FUB) ( email )

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
88
rank
280,121
Abstract Views
351
PlumX Metrics