Alone at Home: The Impact of Social Distancing on Norm-consistent Behavior
IWH Discussion Papers,
Around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned daily live upside down since social distancing is probably the most effective means of containing the virus until herd immunity is reached. Social norms have been shown to be an important determinant of social distancing behaviors. By conducting two experiments and using the priming method to manipulate social isolation recollections, we study whether social distancing has in turn affected norms of prosociality and norm compliance. The normative expectations of what behaviors others would approve or disapprove in our experimental setting did not change. Looking at actual behavior, however, we find that persistent social distancing indeed caused a decline in prosociality – even after the relaxation of social distancing rules and in times of optimism. At the same time, our results contain some good news since subjects seem still to care for norms and become more prosocial once again after we draw their attention to the empirical norm of how others have previously behaved in a similar situation.
Unethical Employee Behavior Against Coworkers Following Unkind Management Treatment: An Experimental Analysis
Managerial and Decision Economics,
We study unethical behavior toward unrelated coworkers as a response to managerial unkindness with two experiments. In our lab experiment, we do not find that subjects who experienced unkindness are more likely to cheat in a subsequent competition against another coworker who simultaneously experienced mistreatment. A subsequent survey experiment suggests that behavior in the lab can be explained by individuals' preferences for norm adherence, because unkind management behavior does not alter the perceived moral appropriateness of cheating. However, having no shared experience of managerial unkindness opens up some moral wiggle room for employees to misbehave at the costs of others.
Consumer Defaults and Social Capital
Journal of Financial Stability,
Using account level data from a credit bureau, we study the role that social capital plays in consumer default decisions. We find that borrowers in communities with greater social capital are significantly less likely to default on loans, even after adjusting for different levels of income and other characteristics such as credit scores. The results are strongest for potentially strategic defaults on mortgages; a one standard deviation increase in social capital reduces such defaults by 12.4 %. These results can be generalized to any mortgage default. Our results also indicate that the effect of social capital is most prominent among more creditworthy borrowers, suggesting that when given a choice, the social cost of defaulting is an important factor affecting default decisions. We find a similar impact of social capital on consumer defaults in other datasets with more detailed information on borrowers as well. Our results are robust to modeling and methodology choices, as well as controlling for other drivers of default such as wealth, income and amenities from homeownership. Our results suggest that increasing social capital via measures to build community cohesion such as promotion of owner-occupied home ownership may be one avenue to deter consumer default.
Measuring the Indirect Effects of Adverse Employer Behaviour on Worker Productivity – A Field Experiment
We conduct a field experiment to study how worker productivity is affected if employers act adversely towards their co-workers. Our employees work for two shifts in a call centre. In our main treatment, we lay off some workers before the second shift. Compared to two control treatments, we find that the lay-off reduces the productivity of unaffected workers by 12%. We find suggestive evidence that this result is not driven by altered beliefs about the job or the management’s competence, but caused by the workers’ perception of unfair employer behaviour. The latter interpretation is confirmed in a prediction experiment with professional HR managers. Our results suggest that the price for adverse employer behaviour goes well beyond the potential tit for tat of directly affected workers.
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