One bad apple? Heterogeneity and information in public good provision

Angela C.M. de Oliveira, Rachel T.A. Croson, Catherine Eckel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Previous research demonstrates that individuals vary in their social preferences. Less well-understood is how group composition affects the behavior of different social preference types. Does one bad apple really spoil the bunch? This paper exogenously identifies experimental participants’ social preferences, then systematically assigns individuals to homogeneous or heterogeneous groups to examine the impact of ‘bad apples’ on cooperation and efficiency. Consistent with previous research, we find that groups with more selfish types achieve lower levels of efficiency. We identify two mechanisms for the effect. First, the selfish players contribute less. Second, selfish players induce lower contributions from the conditional cooperators, and this effect increases in the number of selfish players. These results are not sensitive to information about the distribution of types in the group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-135
Number of pages20
JournalExperimental Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cooperation
  • Group composition
  • Heterogeneity
  • Public goods
  • Social preference types

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