Measuring the Welfare Effects of Shame and Pride
, , ,
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.
Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25637