When Happy People Make Society Unhappy: How Incidental Emotions Affect Compliance Behavior
47 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2018 Last revised: 28 Jul 2019
Date Written: July 25, 2019
Emotions have a strong impact on our everyday life in general and on judgment and decision making in particular. Our paper is the first study to show that incidental emotions, i.e., emotions not related to the actual choice problem, influence tax compliance behavior of individuals. A survey with 22,220 German taxpayers and a controlled laboratory experiment with 297 participants provide evidence that positive incidental emotions lead to a lower willingness to comply compared with aversive incidental emotions. Participants in our survey show lower tax compliance attitudes on days associated with positive mood. These findings are supported by the results of a controlled experiment in which incidental emotions are induced with standardized pictures.
Keywords: compliance behavior, emotions, cheating, tax evasion, norms, experimental economics
JEL Classification: C91, D91, H26
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation