Social preferences in a Chinese cultural context

Saileshsingh Gunessee, Tom David Tolmie Lane, Shangjue Xie

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This paper investigates the effects of social distance and national bias on social preferences in China. In a field experiment featuring a diverse subject pool, we implement an incentivised dictator game, in which we vary the way decision-makers are primed to think about their social distance from the potential recipients of their generosity, as well as the nationality of these recipients. We find that decision-makers become substantially less pro-social when primed social distance increases. However, national bias is not found – there is no evidence subjects are willing to give more money to Chinese strangers than to unknown foreigners. The effects of social distance emerge more strongly at closer levels of distance for those who are rural, low-educated and poor, while they appear more strongly at greater levels of distance for their urban, high-educated and rich counterparts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReview of Behavioral Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Social preferences
  • social distance
  • network
  • nationalism
  • dictator game


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