How the Visibility of Real-Effort Contribution Impacts Reciprocity
24 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2021
Date Written: February 21, 2021
Are we more generous the more we can see of how others have worked for our benefit? In our noisy gift-exchange game, recipients can perform a real-effort task to improve donors' lottery win probability. Donors observe the outcome of the lottery, then decide on their giving. Donors in the Numerical treatment see numerical measures of their recipient's effort, while those in the Visual treatment additionally see a 30-second video of the recipients performing the task. Echoing the outcome bias literature, the Numerical treatment showed that recipients' efforts are rewarded more generously when donors won the lottery. The Visual treatment corrects this asymmetry in rewarding effort but does not increase total giving. Post-experiment surveys suggest that this is because the video not only increases donors' familiarity with the recipients' work but also their perception that the task was not taxing, which decreases reciprocity.
Keywords: giving, reciprocity, real-effort, visibility, non-payoff relevant dimension, outcome bias, visual
JEL Classification: C92, D63, D64, D83
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation