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Social comparison and risk taking behavior

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  • Astrid Gamba
  • Elena Manzoni

Abstract

We study theoretically and experimentally decision making under uncertainty in a social environment. We introduce an interdependent preferences model that assumes that the decision maker evaluates monetary outcomes in relation both with his individual and his social reference point. In the experiment we reproduce a workplace environment whereby subjects interact in an e ffort task, earn (possibly) diff erent wages from this task and then undertake a risky decision that may give them an extra bonus. Controlling for intrinsic risk attitudes, we find that both downward and upward social comparison strongly influence risk attitudes and that they both generate more risk loving behavior. Moreover, we fi nd that a propension to envy counterposes such eff ect, by increasing risk aversion.

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File URL: http://dipeco.economia.unimib.it/repec/pdf/mibwpaper266.pdf
File Function: First version, 2014
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 266.

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Length: 47
Date of creation: Jan 2014
Date of revision: Jan 2014
Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:266

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Keywords: Social comparison; risk aversion; interdependent preferences; reference point;

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References

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  1. Andrew E. Clark & David Masclet & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2008. "Effort and comparison income: experimental and survey evidence," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 28502, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  3. Ingrid Rohde & Kirsten Rohde, 2011. "Risk attitudes in a social context," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 205-225, December.
  4. Card, David & Mas, Alexandre & Moretti, Enrico & Saez, Emmanuel, 2010. "Inequality at Work: The Effect of Peer Salaries on Job Satisfaction," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt48z7z9dn, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  5. Fabio Maccheroni & Massimo Marinacci & Aldo Rustichini, 2012. "Social Decision Theory: Choosing within and between Groups," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(4), pages 1591-1636.
  6. Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2005. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000341, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. Efe A. Ok & Levent KoÚkesen, 2000. "Negatively interdependent preferences," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 533-558.
  8. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada, 2005. "Income and well-being: an empirical analysis of the comparison income effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 997-1019, June.
  9. Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2007. "Reference-Dependent Risk Attitudes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1047-1073, September.
  10. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  11. Glenn W. Harrison & Eric Johnson & Melayne M. McInnes & E. Elisabet Rutstr�m, 2005. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 897-901, June.
  12. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  13. Yoram Kroll & Liema Davidovitz, 2003. "Inequality Aversion versus Risk Aversion," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 70(277), pages 19-29, February.
  14. Jona Linde & Joep Sonnemans, 2012. "Social comparison and risky choices," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 45-72, February.
  15. Cohn, Alain & Fehr, Ernst & Herrmann, Benedikt & Schneider, Frédéric, 2011. "Social Comparison in the Workplace: Evidence from a Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 5550, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
  17. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1998. "Comparison-concave utility and following behaviour in social and economic settings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 133-155, October.
  18. Gary Charness & Peter Kuhn, 2007. "Does Pay Inequality Affect Worker Effort? Experimental Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 693-723.
  19. Vendrik, Maarten C.M. & Woltjer, Geert B., 2007. "Happiness and loss aversion: Is utility concave or convex in relative income?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(7-8), pages 1423-1448, August.
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