I care what you think: social image concerns and the strategic revelation of past pro-social behavior

Ferdinand A. von Siemens, 2020,
Journal of the Economic Science Association, 6(1), 43-56

This article studies whether people want to control what information on their own past pro-social behavior is revealed to others. Participants are assigned a color that depends on their past pro-social behavior. They can spend money to manipulate the probability with which their color is revealed to another participant. The data show that participants are more likely to reveal colors with more favorable informational content. This pattern is not found in a control treatment in which colors are randomly assigned, thus revealing nothing about past pro-social behavior. Regression analysis confrms these fndings, also when controlling for past pro-social behavior. These results complement the existing empirical evidence, confrming that people strategically and, therefore, consciously manipulate their social image.