Nastiness in Groups

13 December, 2023

A paper by Julie Chytilova and Michal Bauer of CERGE-EI and co-authors was accepted for publication in the prestigious Journal of the European Economic Association.

The paper by Michal Bauer, Jana Cahlíková, Dagmara Celik Katreniak, Julie Chytilová, Lubomír Cingl, and Tomáš Želinský provides evidence showing that people are more prone to engage in nasty behavior, malevolently causing financial harm to other people at own costs, when they make decisions in a group context rather than when making choices individually on their own.

The researchers establish this behavioral regularity in a series of large-scale experiments among university students, adolescents, and nationally representative samples of adults – more than ten thousand subjects in total. They test several potential mechanisms, and the results suggest that individual nasty inclinations are systematically more likely to affect behavior when decisions are made under the “cover” of a group, i.e., in a group decision-context that creates a perception of diffused responsibility. These results may help to explain why various forms of anti-social behavior (violence, vandalism, obstructionism) often take place in crowds or complex organizations in which the perception of individiual responsibility can easily be diluted.

The Journal of the European Economic Association has a worldwide reputation for publishing articles of the highest scientific quality in theoretical and empirical economics for a global audience. JEEA has an Impact Factor of 3.6 and is ranked 100/380 in the ISI Economics category (2023).