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From the lab to the field: envelopes, dictators and manners

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Abstract

This paper reports results of a natural field experiment on the dictator game where subjects are unaware that they are participating in an experiment. Three other experiments explore, step by step, how laboratory behavior of students relates to field behavior of a general population. In all experiments, subjects display an equally high amount of pro-social behavior, whether they are students or not, participate in a laboratory or not, or are aware of their participating in an experiment or not. This paper shows that there are settings where laboratory behavior of students is predictive for field behavior of a general population.

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Notes

  1. For example Fehr and Schmidt (1999), Andreoni and Miller (2002), Charness and Rabin (2002).

  2. Some studies correlate behavior in a laboratory dictator game with field behavior, such as Carpenter and Myers (2010). Alternatively, one can think of dictator game behavior to be reflected in philanthropy (see Andreoni, 2006 for an overview of philanthropy). See Benz and Meier (2008) for a non-laboratory study on philanthropy.

  3. See Levitt and List (2007a, 2007b, 2008), List (2009), but see Falk and Heckman (2009), Zizzo (2010), Camerer (2011), Kessler and Vesterlund (2011).

  4. Dana et al. (2006, 2007), and Lazear et al. (2012) find that dictators are more selfish when their role or intentions are hidden from scrutiny by the recipient (as opposed to scrutiny of the experimenter). Andreoni and Bernheim (2009) find similar results when dictators are scrutinized by an audience.

  5. Data were gathered in two waves of N=40 per experiment. Mann-Whitney tests show no differences between two waves of a given experiment, allowing to pool the data.

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Correspondence to Jan Stoop.

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I would like to thank Aurélien Baillon, Han Bleichrodt, Enrico Diecidue, Dennie van Dolder, Ido Erev, Emir Kamenica, John List, Steven Levitt, Wieland Müller, Charles Noussair, Rogier Potters van Loon, Drazen Prelec, Kirsten Rohde, Ingrid Rohde, three anonymous referees and participants from seminars at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and the University of Chicago for their useful comments. Special thanks to Jan Potters and Peter Wakker for some significant contributions. I would like to thank Thibault van Heeswijk and Bart Stoop for their excellent research assistance. Finally, I would like to thank ERIM for financial support.

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Stoop, J. From the lab to the field: envelopes, dictators and manners. Exp Econ 17, 304–313 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10683-013-9368-6

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