IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Social comparisons and reference group formation: Some experimental evidence

  • McDonald, Ian M.
  • Nikiforakis, Nikos
  • Olekalns, Nilss
  • Sibly, Hugh

We experimentally investigate reference group formation and the impact of social comparisons in a three-player ultimatum game. The players compete in a real-effort task for the role of the proposer. The role of the responder is randomly allocated to one of the other two participants. The third participant, the non-responder, receives a fixed payment – our treatment variable – and makes no decision. Knowing the size of this payment, the proposer makes a take-it-or-leave-offer to the responder. Most responders appear to ignore the non-responder when the payment the latter receives is low, but not when it is high. As a result, the existence of a non-responder and the payment they receive has a pronounced effect on bargaining outcomes and increases overall rejection rates. We present a simple model in which agents select the members of their reference group strategically to reduce the extent of cognitive dissonance they experience. The model produces results consistent with our experimental findings.

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://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899825612001844
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Games and Economic Behavior.

Volume (Year): 79 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 75-89

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:79:y:2013:i:c:p:75-89
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622836

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. Lye, J N & McDonald, I M & Sibly, H, 2001. "An Estimate of the Range of Equilibrium Rates of Unemployment for Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 77(236), pages 35-50, March.
  2. Yan Chen & Sherry Xin Li, 2009. "Group Identity and Social Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 431-57, March.
  3. Matthew Rabin., 1991. "Cognitive Dissonance and Social Change," Economics Working Papers 91-180, University of California at Berkeley.
  4. Shupp, Robert & Schmitt, Pamela & Swope, Kurtis, 2006. "On the role of the hostage in ultimatum bargaining games," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 399-411, June.
  5. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., . "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Chapters in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  6. Frank, Robert H, 1984. "Are Workers Paid Their Marginal Products?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 549-71, September.
  7. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  8. Abel, A.B., 1990. "Asset Prices Under Habit Formation And Catching Up With The Joneses," Weiss Center Working Papers 1-90, Wharton School - Weiss Center for International Financial Research.
  9. John Kagel & Katherine Wolfe, 2001. "Tests of Fairness Models Based on Equity Considerations in a Three-Person Ultimatum Game," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 203-219, December.
  10. Oxoby, Robert J., 2003. "Attitudes and allocations: status, cognitive dissonance, and the manipulation of attitudes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 365-385, November.
  11. Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, . "Social Comparisons and Pro-social Behavior - Testing ‘Conditional Cooperation’ in a Field Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 162, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  12. Casari, Marco & Cason, Timothy N., 2009. "The strategy method lowers measured trustworthy behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 103(3), pages 157-159, June.
  13. Stark, Oded & Taylor, J Edward, 1991. "Migration Incentives, Migration Types: The Role of Relative Deprivation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(408), pages 1163-78, September.
  14. Nisvan Erkal & Lata Gangadharan & Nikos Nikiforakis, 2011. "Relative Earnings and Giving in a Real-Effort Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3330-48, December.
  15. McLeish, Kendra N. & Oxoby, Robert J., 2007. "Identity, Cooperation, and Punishment," IZA Discussion Papers 2572, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Benno Torgler & Sascha Schmidt, 2005. "What Shapes Players? Performance in Soccer? Empirical Findings from a Panel Analysis," CREMA Working Paper Series 2005-25, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA), revised Jan 2006.
  17. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2006. "The Economics of Fairness, Reciprocity and Altruism - Experimental Evidence and New Theories," Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism, Elsevier.
  18. Benno Torgler & Markus Schaffner & Bruno S. Frey & Sascha L. Schmidt & Uwe Dulleck, 2008. "Inequality Aversion and Performance in and on the Field," CREMA Working Paper Series 2008-18, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  19. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  20. Timothy N. Cason & Vai-Lam Mui, 1998. "Social Influence in the Sequential Dictator Game," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-37, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  21. Bhaskar, V, 1990. "Wage Relativities and the Natural Range of Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(400), pages 60-66, Supplemen.
  22. Neumark, David & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1998. "Relative income concerns and the rise in married women's employment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 157-183, October.
  23. James Konow, 2000. "Fair Shares: Accountability and Cognitive Dissonance in Allocation Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1072-1091, September.
  24. Straub, Paul G., 1995. "Risk dominance and coordination failures in static games," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 339-363.
  25. Babcock, Linda & Wang, Xianghong & Lowenstein, George, 1996. "Choosing the Wrong Pond: Social Comparisons in Negotiations That Reflect a Self-Serving Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 1-19, February.
  26. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
  27. Frank, Robert H., 1993. "Choosing the Right Pond: Human Behavior and the Quest for Status," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195049459, March.
  28. Linda Babcock & George Loewenstein, 1997. "Explaining Bargaining Impasse: The Role of Self-Serving Biases," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 109-126, Winter.
  29. Cooper, Russell & Douglas V. DeJong & Robert Forsythe & Thomas W. Ross, 1993. "Forward Induction in the Battle-of-the-Sexes Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1303-16, December.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:79:y:2013:i:c:p:75-89. 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: (Zhang, Lei)

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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.