The economic literature is so far overwhelmingly dedicated to the effect of incidental emotions on virtuous behavior. However, it is not so explicit for destructive behavior and the way it evolves with emotional states. To fill this gap, we explore how incidental emotions impact antisocial behavior in a laboratory experiment. As our vehicle of research, we used the open treatment of the joy-of-destruction mini-game. In addition to that, we elicited players’ first and second-order beliefs via an incentivized questionnaire. We find that destructive behavior is driven by two motives: spite (Machiavellian traits) and preemptive retaliation (Expected destruction by partners). Emotional states do not impact destructive behavior directly. However, positive emotions brighten the expectations of other player beliefs on his partner’s destruction, and indirectly reduces the willingness to destroy partner’s money.
An experimental investigation on the dark side of emotions and its aftereffects
30 August 2022