Is the altruistic behavior context-dependent or is it purely driven by care of self and others well-being?
In this study, we experimentally test whether decision on whether to share different types of goods, activities, or emotions, and if so – how to share them, follow similar patterns or whether they are dependent on what is shared?
Theoretical background provides us with two possible mechanisms explaining altruistic behavior (Vasquez & Weretka, 2020). One theory describes so-called paternalistic altruism that is driven by care of others consumption. The other, based on empathetic preferences, highlight the role of utility of the other person. If the first one is correct, then context and what is exactly should strongly affect the decision. If only utility (or happiness) matters than there should be a recognizable pattern of altruistic behavior related to emotional contagion. What is shared should not matter in this case.
In this study, we use hypothetical choice questions (but with the promise that one of the question will not be only hypothetical - additional incentive) to ask participants how would they share several types of goods, emotions, feelings with either stranger or a known person. We use construction of dictatorship game, so our participants are informed that they can share things, but there are no consequences if they decide not to. We ask the question in several contexts: such as risk, pain, disgust, waiting time, possibility to share bad and good news, money, sweets, cinema tickets, washing dishes, making work decisions, and solving math tasks. All contexts are described in a way to provide as many details as possible to make situations realistic for subjects.