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Altruism Alert: Just Ask

Altruism is a regular topic on this blog, and had its own chapter in SuperFreakonomics. New research (earlier, ungated version here) looks at one factor that may affect altruism in the real world: communication. James Andreoni and Justin M. Rao had participants play the Dictator game, with one subject allocating $10 between himself and the other subject. “We found that any time the recipient spoke, giving increased – asking is powerful,” the authors conclude. “But when only allocators could speak, choices were significantly more selfish than any other condition. When empathy was heightened by putting allocators ‘in the receivers shoes,’ altruism appeared as if recipients had been able to ask, even when they were silent.” [%comments]