Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics

CeDEx Brown Bag Seminar - Eamonn Ferguson

A39 Sir Clive Granger
Thursday 14th June 2018 (13:00-14:00)
Our Brown Bag Seminar this week will be given by Eamonn Ferguson, Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Nottingham

I’m a Nice Person, I know I am? “Prosocial Memory Bias” and “Saintly Sinning”

Work on memory and pro-sociality has, to-date, examined how memory helps us recognize and differentiate between people who have reputations for cooperation or defection. However, memory is also a self-direct process and a long tradition shows that this is a re-constructive process. Work on cognitive illusions also shows we are biased to see the world as safer, more predictable and controllable place than it is. Thus, we are inclined to recall our behaviour in a positive light. To-date there are no data on how people recall their own pro-sociality. Based on the above people should be biased in their recall of their past cooperative behaviour, such that they recall it as more prosocial than it actually was. To test this, participants, individually completed the private impunity game (PIG). The PIG is an extension of the ultimatum game (UG). In the UG a proposer makes an offer and the recipient can choose to accept or reject it. If the recipient rejects it then both the proposer and recipient receive nothing. In the PIG the recipient can accept or reject the offer. However, this time the recipient knows that proposer keeps their offer regardless of the recipient’s decision. The pattern of acceptance in the PIG is similar to that in the UG, but supressed. In terms of recall, on average participants significantly recall on average being more likely to accept 50:50 and 60:40 offers than they did and reject 80:20 and 90:10 than they did. This is consistent with a self-view as a ‘nice and fair’ person. What about real world altruists? Do real world altruists (blood donors) prosocial preferences reflect an image of being hyper-nice? Blood donors, compared to non-donors are less generous in standard charity dictator games, more generous in a warm-glow charity dictator game, and more likely to reject ambiguously unfair (60:40 & 70:30) offers in a UG. This pattern reflects ‘unforgiving-saintly-sinners’. I will discuss the findings from the perspective of cognitive illusion, social heuristics and self-image theories. 

Venue: A39 Sir Clive Granger - 1pm start - lunch provided.

Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics

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

telephone: +44 (0)115 951 4763
Enquiries: suzanne.robey@nottingham.ac.uk
Experiments: cedex@nottingham.ac.uk