The Differential Effect of Narratives on Prosocial Behavior
56 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2018 Last revised: 10 Jun 2020
Date Written: June 2020
We study how positive narratives (stories in favor of a prosocial action) and negative narratives (stories in favor of a selfish action) influence prosocial behavior. Our main findings are that positive
narratives increase giving of selfish types substantially, compared to a baseline with no narratives. Negative narratives, on the other hand, have a differential effect. Prosocial types decrease their giving, while selfish types give more than in the baseline. We argue and provide evidence in favor of the following interpretation of our results: narratives offer a benchmark for social comparison, on top of influencing perceptions of deservingness and appropriateness. Subjects are swayed by narratives and, at the same time, they compare themselves with the narrator.
Keywords: Prosocial behavior, narratives, social comparison, dictator game, SVO
JEL Classification: C91, D63, D64, D83, D91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation