Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Did We Overestimate the Role of Social Preferences? The Case of Self-Selected Student Samples

Contents:

Author Info

  • Falk, Armin

    ()
    (University of Bonn)

  • Meier, Stephan

    ()
    (Columbia University)

  • Zehnder, Christian

    ()
    (University of Lausanne)

Abstract

Social preference research has received considerable attention among economists in recent years. However, the empirical foundation of social preferences is largely based on laboratory experiments with self-selected students as participants. This is potentially problematic as students participating in experiments may behave systematically different than non-participating students or non-students. In this paper we empirically investigate whether laboratory experiments with student samples misrepresent the importance of social preferences. Our first study shows that students who exhibit stronger prosocial inclinations in an unrelated field donation are not more likely to participate in experiments. This suggests that self-selection of more prosocial students into experiments is not a major issue. Our second study compares behavior of students and the general population in a trust experiment. We find very similar behavioral patterns for the two groups. If anything, the level of reciprocation seems higher among non-students suggesting that results from student samples might be seen as a lower bound for the importance of prosocial behavior.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp5475.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5475.

as in new window
Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5475

Contact details of provider:
Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page: http://www.iza.org

Order Information:
Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Email:

Related research

Keywords: selection; methodology; prosocial behavior; experiments;

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Dohmen, Thomas J. & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe, 2008. "Representative trust and reciprocity: Prevalence and determenants," Munich Reprints in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics 20058, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. Kosfeld, Michael & Okada, Akira & Riedl, Arno, 2006. "Institution Formation in Public Goods Games," Research Memorandum, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR) 029, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  3. Bartling, Björn & Siemens, Ferdinand von, 2006. "The Intensity of Incentives in Firms and Markets: Moral Hazard with Envious Agents," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University 115, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  4. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 990-1008, June.
  5. Jean-Robert Tyran & Rupert Sausgruber, 2002. "A Little Fairness may Induce a Lot of Redistribution in Democracy," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2002, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen 2002-30, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  6. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 3014, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Ernst Fehr & Oliver D. Hart & Christian Zehnder, 2008. "Contracts as Reference Points - Experimental Evidence," NBER Working Papers 14501, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, . "Social Comparisons and Pro-social Behavior - Testing ‘Conditional Cooperation’ in a Field Experiment," IEW - Working Papers, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich 162, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  9. Armin Falk & James J. Heckman, 2009. "Lab Experiments are a Major Source of Knowledge in the Social Sciences," CESifo Working Paper Series 2894, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Bellemare, Charles & Kröger, Sabine, 2003. "On Representative Trust," SFB 373 Discussion Papers, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes 2003,27, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  11. Matthias Benz & Stephan Meier, 2006. "Do people behave in experiments as in the field?: evidence from donations," Working Papers, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston 06-8, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  12. Frey, Bruno S. & Meier, Stephan, 2004. "Pro-social behavior in a natural setting," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 65-88, May.
  13. Samuel Bowles & Sung Ha Hwang, 2008. "Social Preferences and Public Economics: Mechanism design when social preferences depend on incentives," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics 2008-06, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  14. David Masclet & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2008. "Punishment, inequality, and welfare: a public good experiment," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, Springer, vol. 31(3), pages 475-502, October.
  15. Jeffrey Carpenter & Cristina Connolly & Caitlin Myers, 2008. "Altruistic behavior in a representative dictator experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 282-298, September.
  16. Ernst Fehr & Simon G�chter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
  17. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Zehnder, Christian, 2005. "The Behavioral Effects of Minimum Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 1625, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. repec:feb:artefa:0080 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Charles Bellemare & Sabine Kröger & Arthur van Soest, 2008. "Measuring Inequity Aversion in a Heterogeneous Population Using Experimental Decisions and Subjective Probabilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 76(4), pages 815-839, 07.
  20. John A. List, 2009. "Social Preferences: Some Thoughts from the Field," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 563-583, 05.
  21. Jean Tirole & Roland Bénabou, 2006. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1652-1678, December.
  22. Bellemare, Charles & Kröger, Sabine, 2004. "On Representative Social Capital," IZA Discussion Papers 1145, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  23. E. Fehr & John A. List, . "The Hidden Costs and Returns of Incentives - Trust and Trustworthiness among CEOs," IEW - Working Papers, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich 134, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  24. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers, University of California at Berkeley 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  25. Croson, Rachel & Gächter, Simon, 2010. "The science of experimental economics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 122-131, January.
  26. Fehr, Ernst & Klein, Alexander & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2005. "Fairness and Contract Design," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University 67, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  27. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  28. Burks, Stephen & Carpenter, Jeffrey & Goette, Lorenz, 2009. "Performance pay and worker cooperation: Evidence from an artefactual field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 458-469, June.
  29. Matthias Sutter & Martin Kocher, 2007. "Trust and trustworthiness across different age groups," Artefactual Field Experiments, The Field Experiments Website 00110, The Field Experiments Website.
  30. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A., 2000. "Asymmetric inequality aversion and noisy behavior in alternating-offer bargaining games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 1079-1089, May.
  31. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  32. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  33. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  34. Martin Brown & Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr, 2004. "Relational Contracts and the Nature of Market Interactions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 72(3), pages 747-780, 05.
  35. Joseph Henrich & Steve J. Heine & Ara Norenzayan, 2010. "The Weirdest People in the World?," Working Paper Series of the German Council for Social and Economic Data, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD) 139, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD).
  36. Simon Gächter, 2010. "(Dis)advantages of student subjects: what is your research question?," Working Paper Series of the German Council for Social and Economic Data, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD) 141, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD).
  37. W. Bentley MacLeod, 2007. "Can Contract Theory Explain Social Preferences?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 187-192, May.
  38. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1998. "Motivation and Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 388-411, June.
  39. Lucy F. Ackert & Ann B. Gillette & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Mark Rider, 2009. "Risk Tolerance, Self-Interest, and Social Preferences," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University 2009-04, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, revised Feb 2011.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5475. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.