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We experimentally study how redistribution choices are affected by positive and negative information regarding the behaviour of a previous participant in a dictator game with a taking option. We use the strategy method to identify behavioural ‘types’, and thus distinguish ‘conformists’ from ‘counter-conformists’, and unconditional choosers. Unconditional choosers make up the greatest proportion of types (about 80%) while only about 20% of subjects condition their responses to social information. We find that both conformity and counter-conformity are driven by a desire to be seen as moral (the ‘symbolization’ dimension of moral identity). The main difference is that, conformity is also driven by a sensitivity to what others think (‘attention to social comparison’). Unconditional giving (about 30% of players) on the other hand is mainly driven by the centrality of moral identity to the self (the ‘internalization' dimension of moral identity). Social information thus seems to mainly affect those who care about being seen to be moral. The direction of effect however depends on how sensitive one is to what others think.


Working Paper 19-13



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