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Do good actions inspire good actions in others?

Capraro V, Marcelletti A - Sci Rep (2014)

Bottom Line: Across four different comparisons and a total of 572 subjects, we have never found a significant increase of cooperation or altruism when the endowment came from a good action.We conclude that good actions do not necessarily inspire good actions in others.While this is consistent with the theoretical prediction, it challenges the majority of other experimental studies.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Center for Mathematics and Computer Science (CWI), 1098 XG, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

ABSTRACT
Actions such as sharing food and cooperating to reach a common goal have played a fundamental role in the evolution of human societies. Despite the importance of such good actions, little is known about if and how they can spread from person to person to person. For instance, does being recipient of an altruistic act increase your probability of being cooperative with a third party? We have conducted an experiment on Amazon Mechanical Turk to test this mechanism using economic games. We have measured willingness to be cooperative through a standard Prisoner's dilemma and willingness to act altruistically using a binary Dictator game. In the baseline treatments, the endowments needed to play were given by the experimenters, as usual; in the control treatments, they came from a good action made by someone else. Across four different comparisons and a total of 572 subjects, we have never found a significant increase of cooperation or altruism when the endowment came from a good action. We conclude that good actions do not necessarily inspire good actions in others. While this is consistent with the theoretical prediction, it challenges the majority of other experimental studies.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Average cooperation in Study 1 for each of the three treatments, using DataSet.Error bars represent the standard error of the mean. It is visually clear that the control treatments do not significantly differ from the baseline. Logistic regression confirms this expectation, as reported in Table 1.
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f1: Average cooperation in Study 1 for each of the three treatments, using DataSet.Error bars represent the standard error of the mean. It is visually clear that the control treatments do not significantly differ from the baseline. Logistic regression confirms this expectation, as reported in Table 1.

Mentions: A total of 232 US subjects (62.9% male, mean age = 30.4) participated in our Study 1, as Person B, passing all comprehension questions. 81 subjects (64.2% male, mean age = 31.1) participated in the baseline and played a neutrally framed PD using an endowment provided by the experimenter; 75 subjects (58.7% male, mean age = 30.4) participated in Control 1 and played the PD using an endowment coming from a donation in a previous DG; 76 subjects (65.8% male, mean age = 29.7) participated in Control 2 and played the PD using an endowment coming from a benevolent act in a previous BG. The average cooperation is very similar across the three treatments (33.3% in the baseline, 33.3% in Control 1, 25.0% in Control 2). See Figure 1. To test for an effect of how the endowment is provided (baseline vs Control 1 and baseline vs Control 2) we use logistic regression, with and without control on gender, age, and level of education, predicting cooperation or defection as the dependent variable. As shown by Table 1 we find no significant effect of how the endowment was provided. Table 2 shows the effect of demographics on cooperation: none of the demographic characteristics we collected predicts cooperation significantly. As mentioned in the Methods section, we now report the statistical analysis of DataSetExcluded. In a manual screening, we excluded 9 subjects and remained with 223 US subjects (62.8% male, mean age = 30.5). 79 subjects (62.9% male, mean age = 31.3) in the baseline, 71 subjects (60.6% male, mean age = 30.4) in Control 1, and 74 subjects (64.9% male, mean age = 29.8) in Control 2. Also in this case, the average cooperation was very similar across the three treatments (33.3% in the baseline, 32.3% in Control 1, and 25.7% in Control 2) and Table 1 shows that the way the endowment was provided had no statistically significant effect on cooperative behaviour. We conclude, that a good action in the DG or in the BG does not inspire a good action in the PD, at least in our subject pool. This conclusion is also supported by the fact that none of the subjects in the control treatments declared that his or her action in the PD was somehow influenced by how they were previously treated.


Do good actions inspire good actions in others?

Capraro V, Marcelletti A - Sci Rep (2014)

Average cooperation in Study 1 for each of the three treatments, using DataSet.Error bars represent the standard error of the mean. It is visually clear that the control treatments do not significantly differ from the baseline. Logistic regression confirms this expectation, as reported in Table 1.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4264010&req=5

f1: Average cooperation in Study 1 for each of the three treatments, using DataSet.Error bars represent the standard error of the mean. It is visually clear that the control treatments do not significantly differ from the baseline. Logistic regression confirms this expectation, as reported in Table 1.
Mentions: A total of 232 US subjects (62.9% male, mean age = 30.4) participated in our Study 1, as Person B, passing all comprehension questions. 81 subjects (64.2% male, mean age = 31.1) participated in the baseline and played a neutrally framed PD using an endowment provided by the experimenter; 75 subjects (58.7% male, mean age = 30.4) participated in Control 1 and played the PD using an endowment coming from a donation in a previous DG; 76 subjects (65.8% male, mean age = 29.7) participated in Control 2 and played the PD using an endowment coming from a benevolent act in a previous BG. The average cooperation is very similar across the three treatments (33.3% in the baseline, 33.3% in Control 1, 25.0% in Control 2). See Figure 1. To test for an effect of how the endowment is provided (baseline vs Control 1 and baseline vs Control 2) we use logistic regression, with and without control on gender, age, and level of education, predicting cooperation or defection as the dependent variable. As shown by Table 1 we find no significant effect of how the endowment was provided. Table 2 shows the effect of demographics on cooperation: none of the demographic characteristics we collected predicts cooperation significantly. As mentioned in the Methods section, we now report the statistical analysis of DataSetExcluded. In a manual screening, we excluded 9 subjects and remained with 223 US subjects (62.8% male, mean age = 30.5). 79 subjects (62.9% male, mean age = 31.3) in the baseline, 71 subjects (60.6% male, mean age = 30.4) in Control 1, and 74 subjects (64.9% male, mean age = 29.8) in Control 2. Also in this case, the average cooperation was very similar across the three treatments (33.3% in the baseline, 32.3% in Control 1, and 25.7% in Control 2) and Table 1 shows that the way the endowment was provided had no statistically significant effect on cooperative behaviour. We conclude, that a good action in the DG or in the BG does not inspire a good action in the PD, at least in our subject pool. This conclusion is also supported by the fact that none of the subjects in the control treatments declared that his or her action in the PD was somehow influenced by how they were previously treated.

Bottom Line: Across four different comparisons and a total of 572 subjects, we have never found a significant increase of cooperation or altruism when the endowment came from a good action.We conclude that good actions do not necessarily inspire good actions in others.While this is consistent with the theoretical prediction, it challenges the majority of other experimental studies.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Center for Mathematics and Computer Science (CWI), 1098 XG, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

ABSTRACT
Actions such as sharing food and cooperating to reach a common goal have played a fundamental role in the evolution of human societies. Despite the importance of such good actions, little is known about if and how they can spread from person to person to person. For instance, does being recipient of an altruistic act increase your probability of being cooperative with a third party? We have conducted an experiment on Amazon Mechanical Turk to test this mechanism using economic games. We have measured willingness to be cooperative through a standard Prisoner's dilemma and willingness to act altruistically using a binary Dictator game. In the baseline treatments, the endowments needed to play were given by the experimenters, as usual; in the control treatments, they came from a good action made by someone else. Across four different comparisons and a total of 572 subjects, we have never found a significant increase of cooperation or altruism when the endowment came from a good action. We conclude that good actions do not necessarily inspire good actions in others. While this is consistent with the theoretical prediction, it challenges the majority of other experimental studies.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus