Environmental Degradation and Prosociality: Evidence from Lab-in-the-Field, Survey, and Online Experiments

Karapetyan, Deanna (2022) Environmental Degradation and Prosociality: Evidence from Lab-in-the-Field, Survey, and Online Experiments. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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I investigate how the experience of environmental degradation may impact social cohesion between victims and perpetrators. The first two chapters of my thesis investigate this by observing the behavior of real world pollution victims and polluters, while the last two chapters take the findings from the field and test the underlying behavioral mechanisms of having different types of information on the negative externality imposed in an online experimental setting.

Chapter 1 examines whether the experience of living in an environment degraded by artisanal and small-scale gold mining (“ASGM”) activities erodes social cohesion between pollution victims and ASGM miners in Ghana. Using lab-in-the-field Dictator and survey experiments, I observe the prosocial behavior and attitudes of pollution victims to be higher towards ASGM miners compared to neutral individuals. In Chapter 2, I examine small-scale miners’ knowledge and attitudes about ASGM mining and their intended environmental behavior following an informational intervention. While polluters’ attitudes about the impact of ASGM on the local community became more negative following the intervention, their intended environmental behavior did not change. The findings from the first two chapters point towards the important role of (lack of) information in negative externalities on the behavior of victims and perpetrators.

Chapter 3 investigates whether providing more accurate information about a negative externality would lead victims to behave less prosocially towards perpetrators. I use a real effort encryption task with a payoff scheme that imposes an externality in an online experiment. Victims that were randomly assigned into an information treatment, which revealed the exact size of the negative externality imposed, behaved slightly less prosocial towards perpetrators. Finally, in Chapter 4, I further examine whether information on the intention to impose a negative externality will impact victims’ behavior towards perpetrators. While victims punished perpetrators for imposing a negative externality, I found strong evidence of rewarding behavior towards potential perpetrators when a negative externality was intentionally prevented. Intentionally preventing a negative externality mattered more to potential victims than simply not experiencing the negative externality.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Economics
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2023 08:49
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2023 08:49
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/91544

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