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A Cognitive Dissonance Interpretation of the Context Effect in Social Preference Experiments: Evidence from a Laboratory Bribery Game

Speaker: Sining Wang
Speaker Intro:

Post- Doctoral Research Fellow, Department of Economics, University of Waterloo

Please kindly see Dr. Wang's CV for more information.

Host: Zhi Li
Description:

This paper proposes and experimentally tests the hypothesis that cognitive dissonance associated with the context plays a key role in determining people’s behavior in social preference experiments. We conduct a laboratory bribery game experiment where the cognitive dissonance levels are controlled using different treatments (familiar-context treatment, unfamiliar-context treatment, and context-free treatment). With the aid of an independent attitude survey, we find that (i) in the unfamiliar-context treatment and the context-free treatment people experience the same cognitive dissonance level and we do not observe different behavior in the lab; (ii) in the familiar-context treatment people experience the most intensive cognitive dissonance level among all treatments and subjects are much less likely to behave unethically. Our results unify the mixed findings from past social preference experiments. Conceivably, our approach that identifies the underlying mechanism through which the experimental context matters can be extended to investigate the context effect in general.  

Time: 2017-11-01(Wednesday)12:30-13:30
Venue: D135, Econ Building