DP13078 | Social Influence in Prosocial Behavior:Evidence from a Large-Scale Experiment

Publication Date

07/25/2018

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Abstract

We propose an experiment that prevents social learning and allows to disentangle mechanisms of social influence. Subjects observe another individual's incentives, but not their behavior. We find conformity: when individuals believe that incentives make others contribute more, they also increase their contributions. Conformity is driven by individuals who feel socially close to their partner. However, when incentives don't raise others' contributions, individuals reduce contributions. This pattern cannot be explained by incentive inequality (Breza et al., 2017). We conclude that norm adherence is weakened when incentives are ineffective. Our results show that information about others' economic environment generates social influence