PhD Lunch Seminars Amsterdam

Jindi Zheng (University of Amsterdam)
Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Does a high social status make people more generous? Using a laboratory experiment, I compare prosocial behaviour between people with high and low status. In a novel one-shot, two-player, two-stage game, a high-status subject teams up with a low-status subject. Player 1 gives a non-binding advice a to player 2, suggesting an “effort level” for player 2. Player 2 learns about a and determines the actual effort for both players. Total effort is constant and it is costly to exert effort. Deviation from the advice causes a loss in the team payoff. The major findings are: 1) Even when status is created with trivial criteria, high-status subjects are less selfish than their low-status counterparts. 2) When status is earned, there are much fewer selfish players 2 with high status; moreover, they deviate less from the advice such that less efficiency is lost. These results shed light on the causal effects of a high social status on prosocial behaviour. (JEL: A14, C91, D63)