Review of Behavioral Economics > Vol 8 > Issue 2

Social Preferences in a Chinese Cultural Context

Saileshsingh Gunessee, University of Nottingham Ningbo, China, Tom Lane, University of Nottingham Ningbo, China, , Shangjue Xie, University of Nottingham Ningbo, China
Suggested Citation
Saileshsingh Gunessee, Tom Lane and Shangjue Xie (2021), "Social Preferences in a Chinese Cultural Context", Review of Behavioral Economics: Vol. 8: No. 2, pp 125-145.

Publication Date: 19 Jul 2021
© 2021 S. Gunessee, T. Lane and S. Xie
Behavioral economics,  Experimental economics
JEL Codes: C93, D91
Social preferencessocial distancenetworknationalismdictator game


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In this article:
1. Introduction 
2. Experimental Design 
3. Empirical Results 
4. Conclusion 


This paper investigates the effects of social distance and national bias on social preferences in China. In a field experiment featuring a diverse subject pool, we implement an incentivised dictator game, in which we vary the way decision-makers are primed to think about their social distance from the potential recipients of their generosity, as well as the nationality of these recipients. We find that decision-makers become substantially less pro-social when primed social distance increases. However, national bias is not found – there is no evidence subjects are willing to give more money to Chinese strangers than to unknown foreigners. The effects of social distance emerge more strongly at closer levels of distance for those who are rural, low-educated and poor, while they appear more strongly at greater levels of distance for their urban, high-educated and rich counterparts.