Heterogeneous Guilt Sensitivities and Incentive Effects

Charles Bellemare, Alexander Sebald*, Sigrid Suetens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Psychological games of guilt aversion assume that preferences depend on (beliefs about) beliefs and on the guilt sensitivity of the decision-maker. We present an experiment designed to measure guilt sensitivities at the individual level for various stake sizes. We use the data to estimate a structural choice model that allows for heterogeneity, and permits that guilt sensitivities depend on stake size. We find substantial heterogeneity of guilt sensitivities in our population, with 60% of decision makers displaying stake-dependent guilt sensitivity. For these decision makers, we find that average guilt sensitivities are significantly different from zero for all stakes considered, while significantly decreasing with the level of stakes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalExperimental Economics
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)316-336
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

Cite this