Are high performers more cooperative?

The motivation of this project comes from the development economics literature that poor people tend to be more cooperative within their community and social network, but as income rises, people become more individualistic and perhaps less cooperative.

Participants will first perform a real-effort task to earn their income (based on their performance, ie high performer earns higher income). Then they will be randomly grouped with three other participants and play a public goods game. The game will be played in multiple rounds with each round consisting of two stages: S1 is the real-effort task and S2 the public goods game.

The first aim of this experiment is to test whether people who have ‘earned’ their income status (high performers/high earners) are more or less cooperative compared to those who are low performers/poor earners. 

Secondly, we are also interested in examining the extent to which social environments affect people’s motivation to perform well. For example, a high performer/high earner who is stuck in a group with poor performers/poor earners may become less motivated and exert less effort and become a low performer. On the other hand, a low performer who is grouped with high performers may be more motivated to exert higher effort.

In order to test the effect to social environment, we will implement two matching treatments: ‘stranger-matching’ vs ‘partner-matching’. We will also have two information treatments: 1) full information, where participants receive feedback about the performance and earnings of members of the group prior to playing the PG game; and 2) no information, where they receive no feedback. We will measure their beliefs about the characteristics of the group members (whether they think they are grouped with high or low performers) in both treatments.