Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics

CeDEx Seminar - Michalis Drouvelis (University of Birmingham)

A40 Sir Clive Granger Building
Wednesday 20th November 2019 (14:00-15:00)

Shifting the blame: Does social distance matter?

Previous research has shown that individuals are willing to delegate tasks to shift the blame and avoid taking direct responsibility for selfish behaviour. However, we know little about the conditions under which delegation can be used to increase pro-social behaviour. In this paper, we examine experimentally whether individuals’ decision to delegate is a function of social distance. Our main framework is a principal-agent game in which principals can either decide themselves how much money to share with a recipient or can hire agents who make sharing decisions on their behalf. In our experiment, we vary the social distance between the principal and the recipient who can either be friends or strangers depending on the treatment. We provide new evidence that social distance makes principals less likely to delegate, ceteris paribus. Additionally, we find that, even when principals decide to delegate, social distance promotes pro-social behaviour and consequently, delegation is not used as a means to shift the blame for selfish behaviour.

Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics

Sir Clive Granger Building
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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