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The Dark Side of Reputation” (joint with Gary Bolton and Ulrich Schmidt)

On 09th  January 2017 (1-2pm) Eugen Dimant, postdoctoral researcher in the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program and the Behavioral Ethics Lab at the University of Pennsylvania, will give a presentation about “The Dark Side of Reputation" in Q4.245. Afterwards, Mr. Dimant will be available for questions and discussions. His presentation is part of


In a social environment, individuals constantly observe and are being observed for their actions. The social feedback they receive ultimately addresses reputational and image concerns driven by the intrinsic desire for social esteem and approval, which can be subsumed under the umbrella term of reputational concerns. In addition, in situations in which behavior deviates sufficiently deviates from existing social standards, the potentially resulting ostracism will impair future payoff-relevant interactions. Thus, the threat of reputation loss includes both monetary and non-monetary concerns. In this experimental study, we use a variant of a power-to-take game to shed light on the role of reputational concerns in mediating pro- and anti-social behavior of individuals. We find surprising results when disentangling the channels of monetary and non-monetary concerns, which drive behavior in opposite directions. That is, reputation concerns involving both components crowd-out anti-social and fair behavior and lead to more pro-sociality. Conversely, the presence of non-monetary reputational concerns alone leads to more anti-social behavior. We discuss potential explanations and resulting policy implications.

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