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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.

Suggested Citation

  • James C. Cox & Daniel Friedman & Vjollca Sadiraj, 2008. "Revealed Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(1), pages 31-69, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:76:y:2008:i:1:p:31-69
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    References listed on IDEAS

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