IAREP Workshop on: The economic psychology of giving, public goods and leadership 13th and 14th November.
The School of Economics at the University of Kent held a successful IAREP sponsored workshop at the University’s Canterbury Campus in November. The workshop brought together researchers from psychology, economics and sociology interested in understanding why people give time or money to help others. There were 24 presentations over two days covering a diverse mix of approaches from theoretical economics to experiment psychology. The debate was lively and friendly throughout. Despite the diversity of approaches and backgrounds it was noticeable that many themes kept on recurring during the two days, and we briefly mention some of these:
One was how giving is influenced by the environment in which money is given. For example, Fredrik Carlsson compared giving in a Chinese supermarket to a Chinese experimental lab, Anna Rabinovich questioned whether giving is influenced by a sense of group identification, Wendy Iredale showed that men give more when observed by an attractive female, and Amrish Patel asked what happens if potential givers can free ride anonymously.
A second theme was how complex leader-follower relations can emerge in giving. For example, Martin Sefton reported experimental results in which subjects preferred to delay giving rather than be a lead giver, David Reinstein questioned whether giving changes if people can influence or be observed by someone who will subsequently give, and Wei Hu looked at whether giving in a dynamic public good game can be explained by other-regarding preferences.
A final theme, we shall mention, was that of a possible conflict between giver and receiver. For example, Berthold Wigger suggested that givers may be generous in order to ward off further solicitation, Beth Breeze looked at evidence on how people decide which charities to support, David Rinaldi questioned whether European donors give to corrupt governments, and Petros Sekeris analysed how giving can create a sense of power for the giver and shame for the receiver.
This covers only a random sample of the presentations, but the interests of brevity we will stop there. We would, however, highlight the encouraging and excellent presentations by the many PhD students at the workshop. We should also mention that the workshop fun was not all confined to the workshop venue.