DP10831 Measuring image concerns

Author(s): Emeric Henry, Jan Sonntag
Publication Date: September 2015
Keyword(s): image concern, social norm
JEL(s): D03, D64
Programme Areas: Public Economics, Industrial Organization
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=10831

It is now well documented that individuals, on average, change their behavior when their actions are observed by others. Yet, there is no systematic way of measuring this dimension of preferences at the individual level. In this paper, we propose a novel experimental game to measure the individual sensitivity to image concerns. We test it experimentally and provide several justifications for the validity of our measure. We find a large heterogeneity in the population: one third of the sample appears totally insensitive to perceptions by others, while one third appears strongly imaged concerned. Members of ethnic minorities seem to be more imaged concerned, in particular when observed by a member of other groups. We also show that more image concerned individuals tend to be less cooperative. Finally, we provide preliminary evidence suggesting that individuals do not only care about the absolute image they convey, but also about how far this image is from reality.