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Interpersonal comparisons and risk attitudes: An artefactual field experiment


  • Jaramillo, Miguel
  • López Vargas, Kristian


We study the impact of interpersonal comparisons on risk preferences in an artefactual field experiment. In our experiment, each decision maker (DM) is randomly paired with someone else in her neighborhood and makes a series of decisions that allows us to measure her risk attitudes under one of three conditions: In treatment 1, the DM’s payoff is above the neighbor’s payoff with certainty. In treatment 2, the DM’s payoff is either above or below depending on her choices and the realized outcomes of the lotteries involved. In treatment 3, DM’s payment is below the neighbor’s payoff with certainty. The neighbor’s payment is fixed within each treatment. We derive three theoretical predictions from an extension of the expected utility theory to incorporate inequity aversion. Although, our evidence shows that risk attitudes are indeed affected by interpersonal comparisons, these findings are only partially consistent with the theory predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Jaramillo, Miguel & López Vargas, Kristian, 2019. "Interpersonal comparisons and risk attitudes: An artefactual field experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 16-18.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:179:y:2019:i:c:p:16-18
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2019.03.011

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
    2. Alexia Gaudeul, 2013. "Social preferences under uncertainty," Jena Economic Research Papers 2013-024, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    3. Steffen Andersen & Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2018. "Multiattribute Utility Theory, Intertemporal Utility, And Correlation Aversion," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 59(2), pages 537-555, May.
    4. 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.
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    More about this item


    Risk attitudes; Other-regarding preferences; Social preferences; Fairness;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making


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