Relative payoffs and happiness: an experimental study
Are people concerned with their relative standing in a reference group? Do certain types care more about this than others? Little work has been done to identify underlying determinants for an inclination to make social comparisons and to explain variation across individuals. We investigate whether a person's level of happiness influences her taste for social comparisons and offer subjects choices in decision tasks where there is little or no difference in their monetary reward across choices, but where the material payoff for another person is strongly impacted. These decision tasks are calibrated to distinguish between a person's pure taste for achieving the social optimum, equality or preferences for advantageous relative standing. Self-reported happiness, as measured by scales derived from subjects' responses to questionnaires, is correlated with individual choices. Somewhat surprisingly, we find that most people appear to disregard relative payoffs, instead typically making choices resulting in higher social payoffs. While we do not find a strong correlation between happiness and difference aversion, we do observe that a willingness to lower another person's payoff below one's own (competitive preferences) seems correlated with unhappiness.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)
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.:
- Engelmann, Dirk & Strobel, Martin, 1999.
"The false consensus effect disappears if representative information and monetary incentives are given,"
SFB 373 Discussion Papers
1999,66, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
- Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2000. "The False Consensus Effect Disappears if Representative Information and Monetary Incentives Are Given," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 241-260, December.
- Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2000.
"Social Preferences: Some Simple Tests and a New Model,"
Department of Economics, Working Paper Series
qt46j0d6hb, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 1999. "Social preferences: Some simple tests and a new model," Economics Working Papers 441, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jan 2000.
- Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2001. "Social Preferences: Some Simple Tests and a New Model," General Economics and Teaching 0012002, EconWPA.
- Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2000. "Social Preferences: Some Simple Tests and a New Model," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1483, Econometric Society.
- Gary Charness and Matthew Rabin., 2000. "Social Preferences: Some Simple Tests and a New Model," Economics Working Papers E00-283, University of California at Berkeley.
- Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
- Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, 2001.
"A Theory of Reciprocity,"
CESifo Working Paper Series
457, CESifo Group Munich.
- Oswald, Andrew, 1997.
"Happiness and Economic Performance,"
The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS)
478, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
- Camerer, Colin F & Hogarth, Robin M, 1999.
"The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework,"
Journal of Risk and Uncertainty,
Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 7-42, December.
- Camerer, Colin F. & Hogarth, Robin M., 1999. "The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework," Working Papers 1059, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
- Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999.
"A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
- Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
- Michael Fordyce, 1988. "A review of research on the happiness measures: A sixty second index of happiness and mental health," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 20(4), pages 355-381, August.
- Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
- Jacobsen, Eva & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 1996. "Experimental Proof for the Motivational Importance of Reciprocity," Discussion Paper Serie B 386, University of Bonn, Germany.
- Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
- Selten, Reinhard & Ockenfels, Axel, 1998. "An experimental solidarity game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 517-539, March.
- Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 1999. "Measuring Preferences by Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 155(4), pages 755-778, December.
- Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
- Bewley, Truman F., 1998. "Why not cut pay?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 459-490, May.
- Offerman, Theo & Sonnemans, Joep & Schram, Arthur, 1996. "Value Orientations, Expectations and Voluntary Contributions in Public Goods," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(437), pages 817-45, July.
- Frank, Robert H, 1997. "The Frame of Reference as a Public Good," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1832-47, November.
- Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-83, May.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:45:y:2001:i:3:p:301-328. 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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.