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Revealed Altruism

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  • James C. Cox
  • Daniel Friedman
  • Vjollca Sadiraj

Abstract

This paper develops a nonparametric theory of preferences over one's own and others' monetary payoffs. We introduce "more altruistic than" (MAT), a partial ordering over such preferences, and interpret it with known parametric models. We also introduce and illustrate "more generous than" (MGT), a partial ordering over opportunity sets. Several recent studies focus on two-player extensive form games of complete information in which the first mover (FM) chooses a more or less generous opportunity set for the second mover (SM). Here reciprocity can be formalized as the assertion that an MGT choice by the FM will elicit MAT preferences in the SM. A further assertion is that the effect on preferences is stronger for acts of commission by FM than for acts of omission. We state and prove propositions on the observable consequences of these assertions. Finally, empirical support for the propositions is found in existing data from investment and dictator games, the carrot and stick game, and the Stackelberg duopoly game and in new data from Stackelberg mini-games. Copyright The Econometric Society 2008.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Econometric Society in its journal Econometrica.

Volume (Year): 76 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (01)
Pages: 31-69

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Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:76:y:2008:i:1:p:31-69

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  1. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 457, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Margin Dufwenberg & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000090, David K. Levine.
  3. James Cox & Daniel Friedman & Steven Gjerstad, 2004. "A Tractable Model of Reciprocity and Fairness," Experimental 0406001, EconWPA.
  4. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
  5. Ernst Fehr & Simon G�chter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
  6. Abbink, Klaus & Bernd Irlenbusch & Elke Renner, 1997. "The Moonlighting Game - An Experimental Study on Reciprocity and Retribution," Discussion Paper Serie B 415, University of Bonn, Germany.
  7. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
  8. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
  9. David K Levine, 1997. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2047, David K. Levine.
  10. Huck, Steffen & Müller, Wieland & Normann, Hans-Theo, 1999. "Stackelberg beats Cournot: On collusion and efficiency in experimental markets," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 1999,32, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  11. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
  12. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869, August.
  13. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  14. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  15. Ronald Bosman & Frans van Winden, 2002. "Emotional Hazard in a Power-to-take Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(476), pages 147-169, January.
  16. James C. Cox & Vjollca Sadiraj, . "Direct Tests of Models of Social Preferences and a New Model," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2006-13, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, revised Jul 2010.
  17. Sonnemans, Joep & Dijk, Frans van & Winden, Frans van, 2006. "On the dynamics of social ties structures in groups," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 187-204, April.
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