Funded seed 2021

Winter 2021

A direct replication and extension of The Abundance Effect by Gino & Pierce (2009)

Christian T. Elbæk (Department of Management, AU)

Collaborators: Panagiotis Mitkidis (Department of Management, AU)

Economic inequality is a detrimental characteristic of modern societies and increases the saliency of resource scarcity for individuals living in these societies. While research has provided evidence that such scarcity can drastically distort human cognition and behavior, the consequences for morality remain debated. A seminal article on how inequality might elicit downstream effects on unethical behavior is “The Abundance Effect” by Gino & Pierce (2009). Here, results showed that exposing people to extreme wealth inequality, increased economical cheating. However, we argue that the authors have overlooked a central part of why individuals cheat when exposed to extreme inequality; we hypothesize that exposure to inequality triggers experiences of scarcity, which in turn leads to immediate restrictions in inhibitory control and an increase in risk-seeking behavior aimed at restoring economic resources. To test this prediction, we aim to run 1) a direct high-powered replication of Study 3 in Gino & Pierce (2009) and 2) extend this design by including additional measures of relevance to the study of scarcity. In doing so, we contribute with 1) a well-powered replication of previous research and 2) an increased understanding of how scarcity, elicited by exposure to economic inequality, might affect moral behavior.

Amber ambivalence: Conformity behaviour vs. traffic rule following

Tina A.G. Venema (Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, AU)

Collaborators: Daniele Nosenzo (Economics department, AU) and Lucas Molleman (Tilburg Univeristy)

Every society has certain rules that aim to prevent chaos and ensuing accidents, for example, stopping at a red light. Compliance to these rules, however, is highly dependent on social norms. A recent study found that even when people have a financial incentive to break the rule (and jump the red light), the majority of participants were willing to sacrifice on average 48% of their earnings to comply with the rule (i.e. wait until the light turns green). However, compliance dropped when participants were exposed to deviant peers. When there is a discrepancy between what people think should be done and what people actually do conformity to other people´s observable behaviour trumps following the rule. In familiar situations, such as responding to traffic lights, people know clearly what is the “correct” behaviour, and rule breaking is highly salient.
In the current project we investigate if the introduction of situational ambivalence influences compliance to the rule and conformity to deviant peers. In many countries, the amber light comes only before turning red. The introduction of an amber light after a red light could make people more cautious and prompt them to wait for green (a clearer situation) or encourage them to use the “moral wiggle room” and increase their earnings

Boundary conditions of dynamic social norms to foster sustainable behavior

Laila Nockur (Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, AU)

Communicating descriptive social norms—what others do—can foster sustainable behavior. However, many sustainable behaviors are only performed by a minority (e.g., abstaining from eating meat or cycling to work). Communicating norms not in a static (e.g., “30% are consuming less meat”) but a dynamic way (e.g., “30% are consuming less meat. This increased from 27%”) has been suggested as a solution. It was shown that communicating dynamic minority norms can increase interest in the behavior, intentions to engage in the behavior and actual behavior. However, dynamic norms were only more effective than a static minority norm, but not (consistently) more effective than communicating no norm. Moreover, a recent replication failed to show the original effect of dynamic norms. Therefore, the current project aims to replicate the effect of dynamic norms and explore potential boundary conditions. Specifically, tailoring the norm information to participants’ gender could increase the effect of dynamic norm information. Men and women have been shown to differ substantially on both meat consumption as well as interest in reducing meat consumption. Therefore, the project tests the idea that dynamic norms have a stronger effect when the normative information is tailored to participants’ gender.

How creative are you? The role of feedback on participants' performance in a game-based creativity assessment suite.

Miroslav Gajdacz (Department of Management, AU)

Collaborators: Janet Rafner (School of Communication and Culture, AU), Jacob Sherson (Department of Management, AU) and Carsten Bergenholtz (Department of Management, AU)

We will use our game-based creativity assessment suite, CREA to assess the role of feedback on creative performance in subsequent tasks. By creativity in this context we mean, how many different valid solutions you can propose and how original are those compared to what others proposed. When you perform a task that measures your creativity, is it actually helpful to know how you are doing compared to others? After you perform the first task, you may get to know whether you are more creative than other people. Will that knowledge influence your creative performance in the subsequent tasks (different tasks) and does it depend on whether the feedback was positive or negative?

Much of the research on creative performance feedback focuses on hierarchies in organizations, e.g., effects of feedback from manager to employee and has inconclusive results. However, there has been relatively little research on the role of individual feedback in psychometric creativity assessment tests. Game-based psychometric tests are becoming an increasingly popular means of assessing and fostering creativity in employees (, and thus the role of feedback in these games is an important but under-developed area of research.

To what degree does cooperation increase dishonesty? A conceptual replication and extension of Weisel and Shalvi (2015)

Karolina Ścigała (Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, AU)

Collaborators: Simon Tobias Karg (Department of Political Science, AU), Christoph Schild (University of Siegen) and Janis Zickfeld (Department of Management, AU)


In a seminal study, Weisel and Shalvi (2015) showed that people cheat more when collaborating with others than when alone. Participants were assigned to a collaborative or an individual condition. In the former, participants were matched in dyads: Player A rolled a die and reported their outcome to Player B who then rolled a die and reported the outcome to Player A. If the outcomes matched, participants gained a bonus the size of the reported number. In the individual condition, participants rolled the dice twice and reported both outcomes. If the outcomes matched, participants received a corresponding amount. Because die-rolls were private, participants could cheat.

However, it is unclear if the results were driven by collaboration, or by increased psychological costs of dishonesty when reporting alone. To maximize their outcomes, participants in the individual condition had to lie about outcomes of two die-rolls, while in the collaborative condition participants had to lie about outcomes of one die roll each. Hence, participants might have cheated more in the collaborative condition because of lower psychological costs of having to lie once, rather than twice. We suggest a conceptual replication testing whether people cheat more when collaborating than when alone, assuring an equal number of lies needed to maximize outcomes in both conditions. ​​​​​​​

Using anthropomorphism to drive people away from meat intake

Jorge Rincon (Department of Management, AU)

Collaborators: Polymeros Chrysochou (Department of Management, AU)

Anthropomorphism is attributing human-like characteristics to non-human entities, such as animals or objects. Previous studies have shown that consumers avoid eating meat when exposed to images of animals with human attributes, for instance, a pig with a name and personality. However, other studies have found that animal anthropomorphism increases consumers’ perception of product healthiness, increasing their intention to meat. In order to further explore this issue, we will investigate whether animal anthropomorphism decreases meat intake among consumers by eliciting the feeling of guilt. In our research, we will directly replicate the online experiment conducted by Kim and Yoon (2021), where they tested whether people would choose meat-based dishes or plant-based dishes after being exposed to an anthropomorphized animal. Following that, we will do another experiment that will be conducted in a lab setting in order to add ecological validity to the findings. At the end of our research, we expect to find evidence which proves that being exposed to anthropomorphized animals elicits feelings of guilt, resulting in people consuming less meat.