Public recognition is a frequent tool for motivating desirable behavior, yet its welfare effects are rarely measured. We develop a portable money-metric approach for measuring the direct welfare effects of shame and pride, which we deploy in a series of experiments on exercise and charitable behavior. In all experiments, public recognition motivates desirable behavior but creates highly unequal emotional consequences. High-performing individuals enjoy significant utility gains from pride, while low-performing individuals incur significant utility losses from shame. We estimate structural models of social signaling, and we use the models to explore the social efficiency of public recognition policies.
|Place of Publication
|National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
|Number of pages
|Published - Mar 2019
|National Bureau of Economic Research. Working Paper Series
Revised August 2020. Previous version published under the title: "The Deadweight Loss of Social Recognition".