Economic Polarization and Antisocial Behavior: An Experiment (dataset)

Bortolotti, Stefania ; Bigoni, Maria ; Efsan, Nas Ozen (2020) Economic Polarization and Antisocial Behavior: An Experiment (dataset). Università di Bologna. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsacta/6509. [Dataset]
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Economic inequality may fuel frustration, possibly leading to anger and antisocial behavior. We experimentally study a situation where only the rich can reduce inequality while the poor can express their discontent by destroying the wealth of a rich counterpart with whom they had no previous interaction. We test whether the emergence of such form of antisocial behavior depends only on the level of inequality, or also on the conditions under which inequality occurs. We compare an environment in which the rich can unilaterally reduce inequality with one where generosity makes them vulnerable to exploitation by the poor. We observe that the poor engage in forms of antisocial behavior more often when reducing inequality would be safe for the rich. These results cannot be rationalized by inequality aversion alone, while they are in line with recent models that focus on anger as the result of the frustration of expectations. Indeed, we find that the rich are expected to be more generous in the safe scenario than in the risky one, but in fact this hope is systematically violated.

Document type
Bortolotti, StefaniaUniversity of Bologna0000-0002-8326-5447
Bigoni, MariaUniversity of Bologna0000-0001-5988-6115
Efsan, Nas OzenWorld Bank
expectations, frustration, inequality aversion, money-burning, punishment
Bigoni, MariaUniversity of Bologna0000-0001-5988-6115Project leader
Bortolotti, StefaniaUniversity of Bologna0000-0002-8326-5447Project member
Efsan, Nas OzenWorld BankProject member
Deposit date
13 Nov 2020 11:53
Last modified
13 Nov 2020 11:53
Project name
E.Th.I.C - Inequality and cooperation: An experimental and theoretical investigation
Funding program

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