European Business Schools Librarian's Group

Department of Economics Working Papers,
Vienna University of Economics and Business, Department of Economics

What Drives Destruction? On the Malleability of Anti-Social Behavior

Julia Müller (), Christiane Schwieren () and Florian Spitzer ()
Additional contact information
Julia Müller: Institute for Organisational Economics, University of Münster
Christiane Schwieren: Alfred-Weber-Institute for Economics, University of Heidelberg
Florian Spitzer: Department of Strategy and Innovation, Vienna University of Economics and Business

Abstract: Many recent experimental studies have shown that some subjects destroy other subjects’ incomes without receiving any material benefit, and that they even incur costs to do so. In this paper, we study the boundary conditions of this phenomenon, which is referred to as anti-social behavior. We introduce a four-player destruction game, in which we vary the framing and the presence of another activity, running in parallel to the destruction game. We observe a substantial amount of destruction in the baseline condition without the parallel activity, and with a framing in the spirit of previous destruction experiments. Our results indicate that a parallel activity as well as a framing emphasizing joint ownership of the item that can be destroyed reduces destruction almost to zero. We therefore argue that the emergence of anti-social behavior is highly contingent on the contextual environment.

Keywords: anti-social behavior, joy of destruction, experiment, framing, boredom

JEL-codes: A13; C72; C91 December 2016

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