Lenz, Lisa Christin (2020). Essays on the Impact of Social Embeddedness on Social Preferences, Beliefs, and Pro-Social Behavior. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.

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Economic agents are no atomistic Robinson Crusoes making rational choices entirely based on stable preferences constrained exclusively by prices, budgets and alike constraints. Instead, they have social relations with one another. These relations are –other than presumed by neoclassical economics– no frictional drags impeding competitive markets. Instead, preferences, expectations and choices of others strongly influence what economic agents prefer, expect and how they decide (Granovetter, 1985). In this dissertation, I therefore discuss in three essays applications how an individual’s social embed-dedness in groups and networks impacts preferences, beliefs and human behavior. Pursuing this aim, I substantiate in my first essay (“Guilt in Multi-Agent Settings”) how social environmental factors impact the perception of guilt and shame (c.f. Charness & Dufwenberg, 2006) and thereby lead to a decline of pro-social behavior in multi-agent settings, such as when groups tip less generously than individual customers. In particular, I address theoretically as well as experimen-tally if the desire to not betray others’ expectations (guilt aversion), induce lower levels of pro-social behavior in settings with more than two agents. In doing so, I distinguish between four distinct be-havioral channels: first, agents may weigh the loss inflicted on a single person less in multi-agent settings. Second, agents may experience less guilt if their decisions are not attributable to them. Third, an individual agent may free ride on the pro-social behavior of others. Fourth, interaction part-ners may lower their expectations regarding their pro-sociality in multi-agent settings and in response agents act more selfishly. My second essay (“A Theory of Strategic Discrimination”) discusses why agents strongly consider group composition preferences of others when including new members in groups or social networks in the absence of an own taste or statistical reasons to select either candidate –such as when multi-family home proprietors discriminate against black tenants in response to prejudiced white tenants. Three potential behavioral channels explaining alike phenomena are theoretically discussed and empirically assessed: First, agents may have altruistic feelings towards their present group members and enhances their utility by living up to their group composition preferences. Second, agents anticipate that other members rest their cooperativeness upon who has been selected and adapt their inclusion decision accordingly. Third, individuals seek to trigger reciprocal behavior and positive affections towards them by signaling that they care for the preferences of present group members. Inter-group contact has been found to increase and to decrease discrimination in field experimental studies. These conflicting results might originate from differences in addressed types of discrimina-tion –i.e., whether discriminatory behavior arises from differences in tastes or beliefs– and from dif-ferences in contact’s capacity to alter tastes and beliefs. Therefore, my third essay (“The Impact of Inter-group Contact on Economic Types of Discrimination”) investigates the causal effect of inter-group contact on statistical and tasted-based discrimination as well as associated anticipation effects of the latter leading to a decrease in inter-group trust. Thereby, it studies whether the teams or network one is embedded in has an impact on ones’ preferences, and on how one perceives the pro-sociality and skills of in-group and out-group members. Lessons for policymakers concerned with the reduction of discrimination involve the features that inclusive policies should strive for by changing preferences or beliefs, and thereby reducing discrimination.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Lenz, Lisa ChristinLisaclenz@googlemail.comUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-355680
Date: 16 December 2020
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Management, Economy and Social Sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences > Business Administration > Corporate Development > Professorship for Business Administration and Human Resources Management
Subjects: Psychology
Management and auxiliary services
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Behavioral EconomicsEnglish
Experimental EconomicsEnglish
Social PreferencesEnglish
Belief-Dependent PreferencesEnglish
Date of oral exam: 16 December 2020
NameAcademic Title
Sliwka, DirkProf. Dr.
Engel, ChristophProf. Dr.
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://kups.ub.uni-koeln.de/id/eprint/35568


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