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Front Behav Neurosci. 2015 Apr 14;9:88. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00088. eCollection 2015.

Prosocial behavior and gender.

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Fundamentos del Análisis Económico and BRiDGE, University of the Basque Country Bilbao, Spain.
Fundamentos del Análisis Económico and BRiDGE, University of the Basque Country Bilbao, Spain ; CERGE-EI, A Joint Workplace of Charles University in Prague and the Economics Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic Prague, Czech Republic.


This study revisits different experimental data sets that explore social behavior in economic games and uncovers that many treatment effects may be gender-specific. In general, men and women do not differ in "neutral" baselines. However, we find that social framing tends to reinforce prosocial behavior in women but not men, whereas encouraging reflection decreases the prosociality of males but not females. The treatment effects are sometimes statistically different across genders and sometimes not but never go in the opposite direction. These findings suggest that (i) the social behavior of both sexes is malleable but each gender responds to different aspects of the social context; and (ii) gender differences observed in some studies might be the result of particular features of the experimental design. Our results contribute to the literature on prosocial behavior and may improve our understanding of the origins of human prosociality. We discuss the possible link between the observed differential treatment effects across genders and the differing male and female brain network connectivity, documented in recent neural studies.


altruism; economic games; gender; prosocial behavior; treatment effects

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