Peer Effects In Economic Attitudes
February 17, 2012 – February 17, 2012
RCB 1200 - from 2:00 – 3:30
Recent genetic evidence shows that fundamental economic attitudes, such as risk aversion and altruism, are largely determined by unspeciﬁed environmental factors. Using random assignment of MBA students to peer groups and predetermined survey responses of economic attitudes, we provide causal evidence that peer inﬂuence is one such environmental factor. We ﬁnd positive peer eﬀects in risk aversion, consistent with conformity, negative peer eﬀects in honesty and altruism, consistent with self-interest, and no peer eﬀects in trust. Overall, we show that fundamental attitudes, traditionally assumed to be immutable, are, in fact, heavily inﬂuenced by social interactions, even in adults.