Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Lund University, Department of Economics

No 2014:18: Beware of Popular Kids Bearing Gifts: A Framed Field Experiment

Jingnan Chen (), Daniel Houser (), Natalia Montinari () and Marco Piovesan ()
Additional contact information
Jingnan Chen: ICES, Department of Economics, George Mason University
Daniel Houser: ICES, Department of Economics, George Mason University
Natalia Montinari: Department of Economics, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden
Marco Piovesan: Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen, Postal: Department of Economics, , University of Copenhagen, , Øster Farimagsgade 5, DK-1353 Copenhagen K, , Denmark,

Abstract: The literature on pro-social behavior shows that older children are more generous than younger children; however, the level of individual generosity is heterogeneous even between children of the same age. This paper investigates whether a child’s popularity affects a child’s generosity. Our participants – 231 children, six to twelve years old – decide how many of their four colored wristbands they want to share with another anonymous child. We manipulate the visibility of this decision: in treatment Public, the decisions are revealed to the entire class at the end of the game, whereas in treatment Private children’s decisions remain secret. In addition, we elicited each child’s network of friends using an innovative “seating map” mechanism. Our results reveal that more popular children are more generous in Public than Private decision environments, while less popular children behave similarly in both cases. Moreover, older children in Public display greater generosity than (i) older children in Private and (ii) younger children in either Public or Private. Finally, in Public, older and more popular children share more than less popular older children, and more than younger children regardless of popularity; whereas, in Private there is no effect of popularity on children of any age.

Keywords: popularity; children; field experiment; public decision making; pro-social behavior

JEL-codes: C93; J13

34 pages, May 21, 2014

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