Are nurses more altruistic than real estate brokers?

Are nurses more altruistic than real estate brokers? Find out here. But if you don’t have time, here’s the abstract.

We report results from a dictator game experiment with nurse students and real estate broker students as dictators, and Amnesty International as the recipient. Although brokers contributed substantial amounts, nurses contributed significantly more, on average 76 percent of their endowment. In a second part, subjects chose between a certain repetition of the experiment and a 50-50 chance of costly exit. About one third of the brokers and half of the nurses chose the exit option. While generosity was indeed higher among nurses, even when taking exits into account, the difference cannot readily be attributed to different degrees of altruism.

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6 Responses to Are nurses more altruistic than real estate brokers?

  1. Patrick says:

    So from the peculiar overstudied and miniscule subset of society which is represented by over-privileged young people who chose to go to weird experiments and actually turn up, we know a little bit more about how they behave in those weird experiments they choose to turn up to.


  2. Nicholas Gruen says:

    I think you may be on the money there Patrick. Our taxes at work – well I think they were Norwegian taxes.

  3. desipis says:

    Or a case of a lack of taxes at work forcing researchers to cut corners and rely on students as subject matter.

  4. Mike Pepperday says:

    Oh, the poor researchers forced to use students. Lazy researchers more like, looking for short-cuts to paper-production.

    I was a post-grad student and I refused to use students as subjects for the reason that they aren’t mature and if you are going to draw real conclusions (not merely publication-worthy conclusions) from an opportunity sample, you’d like them to apply to more than youngsters.

    I felt vindicated the other day when the radio told me some research shows the fore-brain (or something) is not mature till about age 25. (And then added, as if the speaker had read my mind, that men are later than women.)

    This business of using students is standard. Occasionally an academic speaks out but no one takes any notice and around the world it is accepted practice. My refusal to use students was met with puzzlement: why was I making life hard for myself? Clearly, I just didn’t get it.

    A waste of taxpayers’ money indeed.

  5. conrad says:

    “This business of using students is standard”

    Not it isn’t. At least in psychology (perhaps it’s different in economics), if you want to publish stuff in good journals that requires a diverse sample to make meaningful conclusions, then you need to get a diverse sample.

    It’s also worthwhile noting that if there are questions that can be answered where the sample makes essentially no difference, then that shouldn’t be criticized, otherwise people will waste money getting samples they don’t need. So the question here is whether you expect nurses in training or real-estate brokers in training to be any different to those that are fully trained (and indeed whether that makes any difference to your actual question at all — perhaps you are just interested in finding two groups that differ on altruism to test something else). If the answer is no, then I don’t see what the problem is.

    There is a very good example of this sort of get-the-best sample snobbery that goes on in single cell recording: If you want to publish stuff on how the visual system works in the top neuroscience journals, then you almost always have to use monkeys. But many of the questions you can ask about the visual system could be answered using almost any type of animal (indeed, for some things to do with the visual system and how single cells work, you could use flys). Yet because of snobbery, people still have monkey labs instead of, say, chicken labs, which not only means that more intelligent creatures get killed (which you or may not care about), but they’re vastly more expensive than chickens also.

  6. john walker says:

    Patric When I was young art student, I and mates would do ‘focus groups’- it was good for beer money. I remember one about finance investment products. It was quite funny to be answering questions about ‘what would you prefer to invest $10K in’ when you had twenty dollars in the bank.

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